Florida and Georgia have had only middle-of-the-pack death rates from COVID-19, making them the prime exhibits for the “open ‘er up” crowd. There’s a problem, though, which is that both states are led by sleazy Trumpian liars and hence their data is junk:
Late last Friday, the architect and manager of Florida’s COVID-19 dashboard — praised by White House officials for its accessibility — announced that she had been removed from her post, causing outcry from independent researchers now worried about government censorship.
The dashboard has been a one-stop shop for researchers, the media and the public to access and download tables of COVID-19 cases, testing and death data to analyze freely. It had been widely hailed as a shining of example of transparency and accessibility.
But over the last few weeks it had “crashed” and gone offline; data has gone missing without explanation and access to the underlying data sheets has become increasingly difficult.
The site was created by a team of Florida Department of Health data scientists and public health officers headed by Rebekah Jones. She announced last week her removal as of May 5 in a heartfelt farewell note emailed to researchers and other members of the public who had signed up to receive updates on the data portal.
Citing “reasons beyond my division’s control,” Jones said her office is no longer managing the dashboard, is no longer involved in publication, fixing errors or answering questions “in any shape or form.”
She warned that she does not know what the new team’s intentions are for data access, including “what data they are now restricting….”
But researchers who have relied on unobstructed access to underlying raw data said they interpret Jones’ removal as a clear indication of government censorship of science.
What Kemp is doing in Georgia lacks even a Bill Rawls level of subtlety:
Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp needed a way to show that he hadn’t been rash to reopen restaurants, theaters, nail salons and the like in late April.
His administration came up with a creative solution. They doctored the statistics.
Last week, Georgia’s Department of Public Health released a graph showing a dramatic, steady decline in cases, deaths and hospitalizations in the state’s five most affected counties, from a peak on April 28, just before the state’s restrictions were eased, to near zero two weeks later.
But on closer inspection, the dates on the chart showed a curious ordering: April 30 was followed by May 4; May 5 was followed by May 2, which was followed by May 7 — which in turn was followed by April 26. The dates had been re-sorted to create the illusion of a decline. The five counties were likewise re-sorted on each day to enhance the illusion.
Only in Brian Kemp’s Georgia is the first Thursday in May followed immediately by the last Sunday in April. And only in President Trump’s America would we have the producers of such flimflam leading the reopening of our national economy.
The governor’s office apologized for what state Rep. Scott Holcomb, an Atlanta Democrat, properly called a “cuckoo” presentation of data. But as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted, it was the third such “error” in as many weeks involving sloppy counting of cases, deaths and other measures tracking covid-19. Another official state chart continues to show cases dropping dramatically over 14 days, with an asterisk explaining that “confirmed cases over the last 14 days may not be accounted for due to illnesses yet to be reported or test results may still be pending.”
Little Trumps cooking the books is going to make it more difficult to assess what can be opened with relative safety and what can’t, which is bad for everyone.