SCREENSHOTS FROM TWITTER — In August the Florida Department of Health took issue with daily COVID-19 statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One of the Department of Health's tweets about the matter is shown above. The CDC COVID-19 tracker has been changed, but still doesn’t agree with the state’s data. The latest change in COVID-19 reporting was announced with the pictured internet meme of World Wrestling Entertainment Chief Executive Vince McMahon (above, right) posted by Florida Department of Health Press Secretary Jeremy Redfern. It was shared by the Department of Health with an image of a cat giving a thumbs-up that read "When it’s no longer season 1 of the pandemic.”

State flippant about COVID-19 data

The “sunshine” in Florida’s “Sunshine State” means a few different things. The beaches aren’t bad, and, at least on paper, we’re all for government transparency here.

The Florida Department of Health, in a very cloudy move, has announced it will release statewide COVID-19 data only biweekly, turning away from the weekly release schedule the state has adhered to since last summer, since it quit releasing daily updates.

The announcement was not made formally, but by way of a meme on Department of Health Press Secretary Jeremy Redfern’s Twitter account. That’s how seriously the state is taking a pandemic that has killed more than 70,000 Floridians.

I know we all want this viral nightmare to be over with, but if you’re limiting the information the public has about COVID-19, you may as well be putting a face mask over our eyes.

Sure, there’s other data available — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still updates its national COVID-19 data daily — but the state has cast doubt on the accuracy of that data in the past. The state Department of Health could easily just release all of the data it collects.

None of the data these agencies collect is complete anyway — it doesn’t include the results of most COVID-19 home tests, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good information to have.

In the comments on his official tweet announcing the policy change, one user left this comment for Redfern: “Thanks so much, my elderly father in law who is on chemo looks forward to being unable to gauge the severity of future spikes in case numbers!!”

Redfern’s response, a screenshot of the CDC’s daily data, came with the reply, “You don’t have to lie to make friends.”

TWITTER SCREENSHOT
Pictured is an example of Redfern’s responses to comments objecting to the reduction in COVID-19 information. In another exchange, a commenter wrote, “Very professional,” to which Redfern responded, “Cry more.”

Which is it? Is the CDC data a good way to tell how many new cases there are in the free state of Florida, or is the now-less-available state data the correct information? What good does withholding this data do for anyone, if the government is still collecting it?

Around and around we go. The state is more interested in moving us all along, and telling us, “Nothing to see here!” when we try to question its decisions.

Cases are down right now, which is great, but there’s no guarantee we’re out of the woods yet. In some parts of the world, the omicron variant and a different-enough mutation of it are causing cases to rise again. And while cases are down, so are vaccinations. Volusia County’s vaccination rate has stagnated, all while unvaccinated and unboosted people will be most susceptible if another wave makes its way to Florida.

This shouldn’t scare you, nor should it make anyone start panic-buying toilet paper, but it’s a reminder that we need all the information we can get to make educated decisions about our lives.

That’s no joke. It’s not 2020 anymore, we know how to keep each other safe. To do that, we need to be armed with all of the info our government has. So when are the people we pay to give us that information going to stop making bad jokes on Twitter and start giving us the numbers?

noah@beacononlinenews.com

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