Florida misleads the public (again) on its case and death data

Article by The Badger

Like waves of COVID (and toxic red tide) continually washing over Florida, so is the bullshit from the Florida Department of Health.

Since I wrote to you last October, not much has changed in the way the Florida state government has handled the pandemic: do nothing; declare premature victory; get fellated by conservative propaganda outlets (along with “centrists”) while cases decline for a few weeks; and then, ultimately, become a national embarrassment when things predictably blow up. I mean, who cares if tens of thousands of people die when have people like this guy lining up to be your fluffer for free? Who could resist that neck-beard-face?

But, once again, in times of crisis, it looks like the Florida Department Of [No]Health (DOH) has pulled out the same old playbook of gaslighting and obfuscation rather than doing the hard work to address the problem that is killing thousands of its citizens.  

I won’t really address the controversy that was this past weekend’s data reporting debacle, as it could have been easily avoided by not relying on the federal government to do Florida’s job and simply go back to daily reporting. We all know they won’t because the official party line is ‘Covid is Over and Glorious Leader DeSantis Was Victorious,’ but DOH really came across foolish and unprofessional … again. Seeing how the discrepancy is a tiny percentage of the overall cases and more important metrics like hospitalizations are readily available, it’s probably not worth getting worked up over at this point.

(However, I wouldn’t be surprised for them to manufacture some scandal so that right-wing news could create conspiracies and mistrust of the CDC to distract from the unabated record-breaking hospitalization and soon-to-be death numbers.)

But the real scandal is in fact the death data and how it unexpectedly changed on the CDC Covid Tracker on August 10.

As we discussed last October, DOH is fond of highlighting the misleading ‘deaths by date of death’ chart to make things look much better than they are. Because there is a lag in the reporting of deaths, the current day always appear that deaths are decreasing – even in times of extreme increases. Deaths that occurred more recently take time to be logged so there is always an artificial decrease when deaths are plotted by the date that they occurred. Several weeks or months must pass before those numbers become accurate. Read this for more information on deaths reported vs occurred.  

Before today, all data from the CDC had been by the date that deaths were reported. Deaths that are reported today occurred over a span of several weeks, not necessarily today. It appears that DOH has switched to deaths by date of death to try to hide the 244 additional deaths that were reported between August 9 and August 10 (along with the 239 were reported over the weekend) and obscure the fact that deaths are now rapidly increasing.

Rather than give the CDC the difference in deaths between today and yesterday like they had for months, they appear to be reporting by date of death now because it will always look like deaths are decreasing. This intentional change in how the data is reported is all about misleading the public and changing perception which seems to be the primary goal of the Florida government during the pandemic. In fact, some news outlets have already fallen for this misleading tactic and are reporting “new” deaths as ones that occurred yesterday despite that number being a small fraction of what it will eventually become.

I hope the CDC and the public sees through this latest manipulation of data by the FLDOH and calculates the true difference in reported deaths. Or, better still, put pressure on this corrupt agency and state government and demand they adhere to data reporting standards that seemingly every other state in the country adheres to.

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