The End of an Era

The last few weeks felt like a whirlwind.

First, I headed back down to the Gulf Coast with a crew of documentary filmmakers to retrace the lifetime of hardship that made me into who I am today.

I visited my impoverished home town, the room where I sheltered during Katrina, the concrete slab where my parents’ house used to be before the Easter 2020 tornado destroyed it, the homes of my neighbors who died during that tornado, the bayou I spent years working on, and the tribe I spent even longer researching with, and the drowning city my heart breaks each time I leave.

During this trip, I received some welcome and unexpected news: The Florida Department of Health Office of Inspector General, after five months of investigation, found probable cause that what I said was true and worth further investigation, granting me – finally – protected Whistleblower status.

Then yesterday, exactly one week later, the Miami-Herald published the most detailed, well-researched and thorough story about what I witnessed at the Florida Department of Health from April-May, 2020 to date. You can read the story here.

The Herald’s story laid bare all that happened last spring, and will be the definitive history of how I ended up here, with this website and with all of you. The story thoroughly debunked conspiracy theorists peddling defamatory and dangerous disinformation once and for all. And although the dedicated work of Herald staff revealed the Desantis Administration for who they truly are, rather than apologize they dug in.

The week prior, the state announced it would be switching to weekly reporting following the week after Memorial Day. All data, reports, systems would be updated each Friday from then on.

Not surprising, given the state’s continued efforts to downplay the severity of the virus. Not surprising given Florida ranked #52 in the United States (+DC and PR) for new COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 people last week, per the CDC report shown below. Not surprising how other states, like Alabama, had made similar moves in recent weeks to cut down on resources allocated to the still-going pandemic.

CDC report ranking all states, plus D.C. and Puerto Rico, from lowest/best rate (#1) to worst/highest rate (#52) for COVID-19 new cases, positivity, hospitalizations and new deaths, per capita, for the previous week. Released June 3, 2020. Accessible at:

What came as a surprise was the announcement yesterday evening – after the Miami Herald was released – that the state would discontinue all of its public data feeds, no longer update the state’s dashboard, and no longer provide any data except a nine-page summary report via PDF.

Grief. It felt like grieving to know they destroyed the data systems during a time when Florida was the worst-performing state in the nation in handling the pandemic. Grief to watch the state deny researchers, analysts, the press and the public any valuable information about what was happening in their communities. Grief knowing they likely did this to spite me.

The state stopped providing data to Johns Hopkins last week, so that is no longer a resource for this information. What data is available as an alternative to what we’ve lost is listed and linked to below, but if you are aware of other resources from which to pull this data, please reach out to me at:

I will be spending the next few days working to find a way to restructure my website to loop in as much federal data as possible. Please be patient as the website is being worked on.

I’ve included a summary of the data we’ve lost, though the I’ll update this once I go through and make a combined list of all data fields now deleted from public access and the implications of having each of those variables out of public view.

What data we lost:

  • Case-line data:
    • The heart of all data generated for the public has always been the case-line data reports, which provided the county, age, sex, case date, event date, etc., for each positive case confirmed by testing in the state. This data allowed for demographic, temporal and age-stratified analysis of every person testing positive in Florida.

      It is gone.

      SUBSTITUTE: None. CDC’s case line data lags by weeks, sometimes months, is often incomplete, and never timely. We’ll use it once it passes the data previously provided by DOH, but there is no true replacement for this data and its removal is a grave injustice to the people of Florida.

  • Hospital data:
    • Thought not provided by DOH, the Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA) which had been reporting active COVID-19 hospitalizations, ICU utilization, and staffing resources/available beds appears to be down. No justification was provided for why this data is now gone, as its usefulness extends far beyond just COVID-19 surveillance.

      SUBSTITUTE: Department of Health and Human Services open data (assuming DOH/AHCA continues to provide this data). Link here.

  • Vaccine progress and reports:
    • The more-thorough information about vaccinations by county has been removed entirely and reduced to a single snap-shot spread over two pages; though vaccine data was never provided through data feeds or public access to begin with – only ever through PDFs.

      SUBSTITUTE: CDC COVID-19 vaccination data. Link here.

  • Pediatric reports, including MIS-C and pediatric deaths:
    • There is currently no way to know how many children under the age of 18 have died because of COVID-19 in the state of Florida. DOH has now decided to report pediatric deaths – which are all persons under 18 – as only those under 16, so 16 and 17-year old pediatric deaths are no longer discernable in the data.
    • There were three deaths of 17-year-olds and two deaths of 16-year olds – that represents nearly half of all pediatric deaths that are now hidden.

      SUBSTITUTE: None

  • ALL Emergency Room surveillance data:
    • The hospital surveillance data that was supposed to determine the relative safety to reopen – the COVID-19-like-illness and influenza-like-illness ER reports that tend to be a precursor to case, hospitalization and death data – are all gone.

      SUBSTITUTE: None

  • City and zip-code data:
    • The state never provided city data as an API, but I scraped it from PDFs and built APIs to provide it myself. Since the state will no longer be issuing those reports, there is no way to update the data for cities from here on.
    • The zip code data will also no longer be updated.

      SUBSTITUTE: None. These two data feeds (mine and DOH’s) were the only sources for local data provided by the state or federal government.

  • Schools data:
    • Although most districts in the state will remain open through next week, The Florida Department of Health removed all school reports from their main website. It is not clear when or if they will update this data for the rest of the school year.

      SUBSTITUTE: None. There is no federal tracking resource for COVID-19 cases in K-12 schools. We decommissioned The Covid Monitor in March on the basis that the federal government would overtake this task. They have not. There is nowhere else to get this data.

  • ALL non-resident data:
    • The state has finally pulled the plug on reporting any and all non-resident cases, vaccinations, and deaths. If you do not have a valid Florida proof-of-address, whether you’re a person who spends half the year in the state or a migrant who lives her on a visa, a visitor staying long-term, or any other situation in which you do not have permanent, legal Florida address, you are deleted from the public data entirely.

      SUBSTITUTE: None.

  • All long-term care facility data, including cases and deaths
    • All data about nursing home cases and deaths has been removed and will no longer be provided.

  • Prison cases/deaths:
    • All that is left for data about cases and deaths in prisons is now listed on the Department of Corrections’ website here.

      SUBSTITUTE: None

What to be careful using in the new format:

  • Positivity vs “new case” positivity:
    • A little tricky because of how it’s reported, but the state is now providing a metric for “cumulative case positivity” and “previous week new case positivity.”
    • “New case positivity” is the calculation DOH invented for the sole purpose of artificially deflating positivity by including duplicates in the denominator for all persons tested, but only counting new cases (first-time positive) result in the nominator. This statistic is used only by the state of Florida – no other state or country in the world uses it. There’s a lot more on that here.
    • Cumulative positivity – which you’ll notice ranges from 7.5% to 28.1%- is much higher than “previous week new case positivity.” So putting these two statistics next to each other as if they’re indicating a dramatic decrease in comparative figures is incredibly dishonest and misleading. They’re not measuring the same thing.
    • Still, the cumulative positivity by race and ethnicity is telling – 28.1% of White-Hispanic persons tested since March 2020 were positive. And vaccination rates for White-Hispanic persons is inexcusably lower than White-Non-Hispanic (26% to 33%, respectively).

This page will be updated as more information is gathered. I wanted to get something out quickly as I know many of you are likely wondering what happened and why all the data is down.


If you’re looking to help out, whether to send a check to help my ongoing fight against the state or just to send a note to say hi, you can now write me at:

PO BOX 30585
Chevy Chase, MD 20824

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