ORLANDO, Fla. – The accuracy of Florida’s coronavirus data on the state’s dashboard is back in the national spotlight.
Weeks after former Florida Department of Health scientist Rebekah Jones was ousted, she launched her own coronavirus dashboard to renew the public’s trust in data.
“I rebuilt this new one, really the frame of it in a day, much like I did the last time,” Jones said.
Her website looks strikingly similar to the state’s is not a coincidence.
“The difference is that mine is much more transparent and it’s a lot more detailed,” Jones said.
The DOH website she said she curated was touted by the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator Deborah Birx as a model of transparency.' However, Jones claims the career-boosting recognition wasn’t enough.
“I always wanted to add things like nursing home cases, hospitalizations, ICU beds, pediatric cases, prison cases all of that information to my first dashboard, I was not able to I was told no,” Jones said.
Through this virtual interview, there is no mistaking her view of what she claims happened before her abrupt departure from DOH. A few weeks later the world moved on. The world, that is, except Jones.
“I got kind of depressed after that, after having lost my job that I cared a lot about that I put a lot into,” Jones said.
In response to Jones’ termination in a statement to News 6 the state said:
“Rebekah Jones exhibited a repeated course of insubordination during her time with the Department, including her unilateral decisions to modify the Department’s COVID-19 dashboard without input or approval.”
In her interview with News 6 Jones said mounting tension with higher-ups came after she pushed back and refused to put aside her scientific integrity over public pressure.
In a statement to News 6 DOH claims its Jones’ dashboard that is unreliable:
“The Rebekah Jones’ Dashboard sources much of its data directly from the Department’s Dashboard. The remainder is either self-reported or derived from unofficial sources.”
The 30-year-old said the fallout has left little doubt data transparency will ever be resolved. Meantime she said her comprehensive dashboard attracts millions of views and operates through GoFundMe donations. Jones has also secured legal counsel to navigate the controversy.