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Florida COVID-19 News: 16,868 New Cases on July 21, and 16,337 cases July 22

The CDC reported 16,868 new cases of COVID-19 in Florida yesterday, and another 16,337 cases today, as well as 252 deaths between the two dates.

The highest single-day case count last summer was 15,166 on July 12, 2020, meaning Florida just broke its own record for a single-day increase in cases during the summer/spring/fall months.

July 21, 2021 is now the 20th highest single-day increase in cases since the pandemic started last year – the other 19 days were all in December/January 2020. July 22 is now the 24th highest single-day case increase.

Last summer was dubbed the “summer of death” because of the reckless reopening of the state followed by rampant spread of the virus.

12,018 Florida residents lost their lives just in the summer months after reopening last year – with the highest number of deaths occurring just two weeks after peak cases that summer.

The only difference is that now we have no idea what’s going on. Last month, Desantis forced the Department of Health to stop updating all of the data feeds I set up for them in March of 2020. No more nursing homes data, schools data, prisons data, detailed demographic data, zip code data, community data, nadda.

And while Ron Desantis started selling merchandise with “Don’t Fauci Florida” slogans, and and Matt Gaetz proposed bills to fire the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, cases began rising in Florida- in large part to low vaccination rates, no mask mandates, and variants dominating the state’s new cases.

CDC variants data for Florida*:

B.1.1.7(Alpha)= 48.4%

B.1.617.2(Delta)= 13.4%

P.1(Gamma) = 18.1%

*Data represents sequencing of new case samples from July 10-16, 2021, which is the most recent report available by the CDC. Click here for source.

A recent piece shared by my friend Dr. Peter Hotez shared issued dire warnings about transmissibility, severity and vaccine-evasiveness of variants. The author details the crisis in Florida and how this entirely-predictable disaster unfolded. (FYI, Dr. Hotez is world-renowned pediatrician and vaccine researcher that both Desantis and his Nazi-spokesperson have both publicly attacked for warning folks about this exact thing).

Florida COVID-19 case rates over time. Source: https://joaquinlife.medium.com/part-3-delta-variant-hot-surge-summer-in-the-u-s-4fc7538bdc25

Here are a few key points about variants and vaccinations:

A Singapore study that is being submitted for international publication showed the following results for Pfizer and Moderna:

  • 69 percent effective against infection regardless of symptoms
  • 80 and 90 percent effective against symptomatic disease
  • 93 percent effective against severe COVID-19 disease which includes requiring oxygen supplementation, ICU care, or death.
  • Being fully vaccinated provides high levels of immune protection although lower than previous strains (e.g., Pfizer: 93% against Alpha, 88% against Delta) and much lower if partially vaccinated (e.g., AstraZeneca only 33% against Delta)

The Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine continues to underperform compared to its mRNA counterparts.

Another study found results consistent with the previous study mentioned, but also looked at AstraZenaca, which is more similar to the J&J vaccine, for the period from 5 April to 16 May:

  • 2 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were 60% effective against symptomatic disease from the B.1.617.2 variant compared to 66% effectiveness against the B.1.1.7 variant
  • both vaccines were 33% effective against symptomatic disease from B.1.617.2, 3 weeks after the first dose compared to around 50% effectiveness against the B.1.1.7 variant

The big message: Get vaccinated. Soon. Both shots. Please.

We need to remember that children under 12 years old still are not eligible for vaccination – that includes my 11-year-old son, Jack, and my three-year-old daughter, Evi.

Hospitalizations of children are increasing with the Delta and Gamma variants, which are particularly good at infection and sickening children.

I still update the modern and classic versions of my website with the available CDC data each day. The sites have always been and will always continue to be free to the public, including all underlying data and archives. I made a promise to see this through, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do!

Florida has been among the worst states in the nation by case, positivity, hospitalization and death rates since last summer. Once President Biden took over and hired Andy Slavitt to run his data team, the White House began issuing weekly summary reports that showed rates of transmission and even ranked each state from best (#1) to worst (#50/52) for each reporting period.

For the last six months, Florida has averaged (based on rates per 100k):

#45 for cases
#46 for positivity
#44 for hospitalizations
#44 for deaths

Florida’s National Standing in COVID-19 Response:

I personally don’t believe we should be discussing economics when we’re talking about people’s lives and safety, but since that is an argument that Desantis and his corrupt administration have tried to make, let’s look at the economics for a second.

Florida Pandemic Economics:

  • Florida ranks 3rd highest in percentage of children without enough to eat (12%);
  • 4th highest in USA for percent of adults without enough to eat (11%)
  • 3rd highest percent of population still behind in rent (21%)
  • 11th highest percent of households reporting difficulty in “covering usual household expenses” (28%)
  • 35th for unemployment based on filings;

Sources: https://www.cbpp.org/research/poverty-and-inequality/tracking-the-covid-19-recessions-effects-on-food-housing-and https://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/real-estate/evictions/os-ne-eviction-crisis-florida-covid-19-20210513-z4rgek7shfdnlo5uflczecvdv4-htmlstory.html

Our country should be making decisions based on sound science, not political posturing. I hope this information is useful and that you make safe decisions with the data that is out there, even if it’s now incredibly limited because of Desantis.

Support Science and Donate Today!

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Twitter must restore @GeoRebekah’s account

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE –

Congressional candidate Rebekah Jones (FL-1) seeks to have her @GeoRebekah Twitter account restored at once.

Jones recently lost access to her @GeoRebekah twitter account, where the whistleblower and scientist maintained an active following of more than 400,000 users at the time of her unjustified suspension.

A spokesperson for the office of Ron DeSantis, C. Pushaw – who has herself used multiple accounts to troll, stalk, and harass Jones and her followers and still has an active charge against her in Maryland for violating Jones’ April restraining order against her – celebrated the automated suspension by Twitter, thus silencing this much-needed voice of truth and reason in a press release, falsely accusing her of “platform manipulation” by purchasing followers through a third-party application.


According to an article in Forbes, Jones’ following showed consistent and organic growth since she blew the whistle on the state for lying to the public during COVID-19 last year. Only within the last few months – during the same period of time that Pushaw led an online smear and disinformation campaign – did any suspicious activity in user growth appear. 

While there is no way to definitively prove who made the purchases or from where, Pushaw’s continued aggression toward this whistleblower goes beyond just unethical and immoral – it’s a violation of Florida law. 

Even though Twitter sent Jones notice that her account was suspended due to violations of the spam policy, for allegedly over-zealously sharing a news article by the Miami Herald that exposed her former employers and the Governor, the Governor’s office began immediately lying to the public about the cause of the suspension in yet another failed attempt to smear Jones.

The governor’s office did this in direct violation of Florida Statutes 112.3187, known as “the Whistleblower law,” which protects those who file complaints from any adverse action or retaliation by the state. 

Desantis’ own “anti-big tech” law, set to go in effect July 1 though its future remains doubtful, prohibits Twitter or other social media platforms for “deplatforming” candidates for elected office.

Whether whistleblowers, congressional candidates, or both, an open forum for free speech should be encouraged when that speech is informative and factual. When critics of the state can be locked out of social media for nothing other than sharing news articles, however prolifically the sharing may be, Twitter effectively silences voices of dissent on behalf of governments. 

We ask only that Twitter’s policies being enforced uniformly. Jones has been the subject of targeted stalking, harassment and smear campaigns with fewer than a dozen accounts suspended for their hateful behavior. Yet, Twitter expects the public to believe it suspended the account of a powerful governor’s most prominent critic for “spam.”

Please Tweet to or message @Twitter, @TwitterSupport @TwitterComms and advocate for Jones to have her account – and thus, her direct line with the people – restored and protected during ongoing lawsuits against the state and any campaigns she may manage in the future. 

You can also email Twitter directly at: Support@Twitter.com 

Click below to tweet your support:

@TwitterSupport @TwitterComms @TwitterSafety

Restore @GeoRebekah at once! Her #Whistleblower & #Campaign account is what makes @Twitter great;

Suspending @GeoRebekah is the type of thing that destroys it and erodes trust in @Jack.

#RestoreRebekah

Featured

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: https://healthdata.gov/Community/COVID-19-State-Profile-Report-Florida/ht94-9tjc

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: Contact@FloridaCovidAction.com

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.
  • SUBSTITUTE: None

  • 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.

Note:

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

Featured

Announcing COVID-19 Data Hero Awards

Submit your nominee(s) for COVID Action’s “Data Hero” awards, which recognize the hard-working folks in the public, private, and non-profit sectors who have kept you informed about Coronavirus in your state or region.

Click here to open the submission form.

COVID Action is looking to identify and support the scientists, reporters, and community members who provided transparent and meaningful data and analysis about COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, deaths, testing, vaccinations, and more, to the public during the last year.

Nominees may include any individual, including:

  • Local, state and federal employees
  • Reporters and members of the media
  • Elected officials, community members, candidates
  • Non-profit and volunteer researchers
  • Scientists, statisticians, geographers, epidemiologists, or anyone with an academic or professional background related to their work, regardless of current employment/affiliation

Please provide as much information as possible for your nominee.

The list of data heroes will be published on our website at FloridaCovidAction.com on March 1. We’ll also publish a map with profiles of some of the most outstanding heroes across the country with links to the resources, data and analysis they provide(d) by March 12 – one year from the day our founder published her internationally-praised Florida COVID-19 data and surveillance dashboard for the state of Florida.

Our team will review all submissions and identify three individuals among the pack who led data reporting and analysis during COVID-19 under immense pressure with transparency, accuracy, and incredible talent and grit, particularly in the face of opposition or interference. Those winners will be announced on March 12 with the launch of the Data Heroes Map.

Each of the three individuals will receive a $1,000 award for their efforts in keeping the public safe and informed.

If you have any questions, please reach out to: Contact@FloridaCovidAction.com

You may submit more than one nomination. Nominations should be individuals and not groups or organizations. No members of Florida COVID Action or The Covid Monitor will be considered for awards.

Featured

Thank you.

I thought a lot about how to make this announcement. In true “Rebekah Jones fashion,” I’ll just come out and say it:

I will be leaving Florida next month.

After the raid on my home, I can no longer justify staying in the state.

I am not abandoning Florida. I am not abandoning this project. I will continue to do this work after I move until it is no longer needed, as I’ve always promised.

The governor of Florida seems have an irrational and passionate hatred for who I am and what I represent: defiance in the name of science of human decency.

He crossed a line involving my family. The depravity of having his personal police force storm my house and point guns at my young children cannot be overstated.

That action may very well become a life-changing moment for my son, who at only 11 years old had multiple police officers pointing guns at him.

We were kept in our living room for hours while police went through our things – an armed babysitter not allowing us to leave the room.

My family is no longer safe living in this state, and I cannot and will not ask them to make sacrifices of that magnitude for the work I am doing.

My team of amazing lawyers are working to hold the police and the governor accountable for these actions.

Despite the raid on my home and my family, my greatest concern is not about police intimidating whistleblowers.

Science has been at war with politics in this country since its founding. We’re barked at for getting pulled into the fight, but if we can not be advocates for our own work, then we can not sit back and expect other people to become advocates in our absence.

I saw first-hand how information is manipulated for the advancement of an agenda completely departed from the facts. I refused to be a part of it.

It reminds be a lot of the history of science related to smoking and cigarettes.

There have been many great books written about this topic, but if you’re able, get a copy of Merchants of Doubt, by Oreskes and Conway.

I wrote a short piece below about that fight, and I hope you take the time to read it. It exemplifies the struggle of scientists against political forces.

Smoking causes cancer.

Franz Herman Muller, Eberhard Chairer, Eric Schoniger, Ernst Wynder, Evarts Graham, Rochard Doll, Bradford Hill, Raymond Pearl, Alton Ochsner, Charles Cameron and others were among the early researchers of the tobacco-cancer link. Their names are not well-known, but they put into motion all of the research that ultimately saved millions and millions of lives from cancer-related illness. 

Alton Ochsner, another researcher looking at the cancer-linked, was stabbed in the back by his own colleagues for being “an anti-smoking enthusiast,” as if being an advocate of his research findings somehow made those findings illegitimate. 

Cigarette companies had their own medical researchers who claimed smoking was great for your health – literally. Even Harvard University speculated as to why the research might be wrong. 

Influential doctors like James Walsh made outrageous statements about how they knew healthy people who smoked and that the entire medical field had no reason to spend its vast resources researching the emerging science on the smoking-cancer link. 

In 1952, emerging research on the link between cancer and smoking broke through the academic-public barrier after a widely-shared article in Reader’s Digest was published. There was a sharp decline in cigarette sales, but it was temporary, and cigarette companies began stepping up their marketing and lobbying to protect sales. 

In 1955, Dr. Charles Cameron, medical and scientific director of the American Cancer Society, published a best-selling book detailing the connections between smoking and cancer, and offering preventative measures. For his efforts, he and other leaders in medical research were harassed, threatened and even fired from their positions.

Cigarette-funded “scientists” called into question the quality of data being used. They said they had never met someone who had died from cancer due to smoking. They dismissed researchers as being “fear mongers.” Sound familiar?

Here’s a great excerpt from The Atlantic about how politics interfered with the science:

“Politics also played an important role. In “The Quiet Victory of the Tobacco Lobby: How It Found the Best Filter Yet—Congress” (September 1965), Elizabeth Drew explained how business people with vested interests in the tobacco industry were exploiting their high-level political connections to influence tobacco-related government policies. And in a 1992 article, France: An Ambivalent War Against Smoking,” Judson Gooding discussed how similar factors were then operating in France to stymie anti-smoking legislation. In this case, he explained, the vested interests resided not with outside lobbyists, but, paradoxically, within the government itself, which owned the nation’s cigarette-manufacturing monopoly and reaped substantial tax revenues from cigarettes.”

An article published in 2011 actually calculated the profit made for cigarette companies per each person who is killed from their products: $10,000.

A cigarette company profits $10,000 for each person they kill. 

Today, we’d view anyone who denies the link between cancer and smoking as a moron, and smoking is generally frowned upon (as it should be). But it took decades of fighting the cigarette lobby and congress to get that information out to the public, and then turn it into legislation. 

The same people who led the misinformation campaigns about smoking and cancer would later lead the disinformation campaigns against climate change science, using the same tactics to undermine the global body of research showing the definitive link between man and global warming.

Featured

A new adventure for COVID Action: The COVID Monitor

When I decided to launch my Florida COVID Action site on June 11, I had no idea if anyone would care or even notice.

No state in the country had been so plagued by corruption and politics in data reporting as to warrant an “alternative” resource of official information.

But when I was fired as manager of the public data and surveillance data systems at the Florida Department of Health in May, the media attention blew up beyond what I ever imagined.

In the process, an information void was created. Knowing the data the state was pushing was unreliable and untrustworthy, Floridians had nowhere to turn for information about COVID-19 in their state. I felt somewhat responsible for that void and thus felt morally obligated to try to help those who didn’t trust the state.

So I committed myself to continue doing the job of reporting the data and science to the public, free of charge, for as long as they needed it, pulling in all available state datasets to give the people as much information as I could scrape.

I have been living and breathing this project night and day since that time, and the support I’ve received both personally and for my new ‘company’ has been tremendous.

Less than two months later, I watched another problem develop that no state in this country had yet faced: the potential impacts of reopening schools during a pandemic.

Most states closed schools for the year in March, when the number of cases across the entire country was only at about 7,000 total.

Although Governor DeSantis refused to shut down the state for spring break, schools switched to all-online instruction on March 17, when Florida had recorded fewer than 300 total cases of the virus.

Nearly every Florida school district in the state opens up by August 31, with more than 600,000 COVID-19 positive persons tested to date.

If we shut down schools in March because of a few hundred cases state-wide, why are they opening back up when Florida registers thousands of new cases per day?

Over the summer, teachers who taught ESE courses or coached sports teams got sick. Some even died.

Teachers started reaching out to me directly with their concerns about the upcoming school year. Concerned about retaliation, they asked if there was a way they could report what was going in schools without being identified.

So I launched a new dashboard to provide teachers, staff, administrators, parents, and even students a way to safely and 100% anonymously report information about cases in schools, even if officials didn’t want to release the information.

I immediately became swamped with reports – not just in Florida, but across the entire country. Hundreds a day. Working on this site and the new schools project became a 20-hours-per-day job. I was exhausted. I was worried that I would neglect either or both projects if I continued to try to handle that work by myself.

So I started reaching out for help. I wrote letters to universities, and academic and professional researchers about my idea for the project: a central database tracking and reporting cases in every school in the country. I even wrote on Twitter that I needed help.

Enter FinMango, a financial literacy non-profit (501c(3)) who shifted gears to COVID-19 education during the pandemic. They had partnered with Google’s COVID-19 Open Data Project, and had the passion, intensity and resources needed for a successful collaboration.

We launched our new joint-venture yesterday, The Covid Monitor.

From our new site you can access our map and data site, report cases in your school safely and anonymously, volunteer your time or donate to the organization. Donations to this project through FinMango are tax-deductible.

I personally will not be compensated for my own time on this project. If you wish to support me or Florida COVID Action, choose one of the buttons below where appropriate.

Support The COVID Monitor through FinMango (a registered 501c(3), donations made here are tax-deductible)

Support Rebekah through her personal GoFundMe site (please review GoFundMe’s policy toward taxation for more info)

Support Florida COVID Action, a registered Florida LLC and social benefits corporation (learn more about B-Corps here)

If you’re a school administrator or state official and would like to connect with us, please email us at: Plans@TheCovidMonitor.com

Members of the media are encouraged to participate in our data collection system, as well. To learn more about how to automate your data reporting with The Covid Monitor, please contact plans@TheCovidMonitor.com 

Follow us on Twitter @TheCovidMonitor


Information about our collaboration team:

FinMango is a global non-profit organization on a mission to promote and advance financial inclusion worldwide—however, we recognize the importance of combating COVID-19 and are actively pivoting towards catering to the needs of researchers leading the fight.

Florida COVID Action LLC is a Florida-based social benefits corporation made of scientists specializing in public health research, data science, and data visualization. Founded by Florida scientist and whistleblower Rebekah Jones, Covid Action is committed to data access and transparency during the coronavirus pandemic (and beyond).

Featured

Monitoring, tracking and reporting COVID-19 Cases in the USA’s 13,000+ school districts: A FinMango and Florida COVID Action Initiative

Announcement by the new team: The Wolf, Badger, Dolphin, and the Platypus

FinMango and Florida COVID Action are partnering on a ground-breaking joint project, launching the nation’s first COVID-19 dataset focusing on coronavirus cases in every K-12 school district in the U.S.A.

Our two organizations utilize and connect with a wide range of data providers to collect information pertaining to COVID-19, including school opening dates and formats, restrictions and policies regarding masks and distancing, and the number of cases for each district.

Data currently available about COVID-19 cases in schools exists in fragmented pockets across the country with no standardized reporting method in place, making it difficult to locate, synthesize and analyze.

Our initiative ensures that COVID-19 data is accurate, transparent, and published in a single, public platform—an effort that will more effectively inform decision makers as they work to understand and mitigate the effects of COVID-19.

Through this partnership, FinMango is expanding its work to address the pandemic, with the use of Google Cloud’s COVID-19 Public Dataset Program, a hosted repository to aid researchers, data scientists, and analysts in the effort to combat COVID-19.

For more information or to volunteer, visit us at finmago.org/covid or contact us at data@finmango.org.

Information about our collaboration team:

FinMango is a global non-profit organization on a mission to promote and advance financial inclusion worldwide—however, we recognize the importance of combating COVID-19 and are actively pivoting towards catering to the needs of researchers leading the fight.

Florida COVID Action LLC is a Florida-based social benefits corporation made of scientists specializing in public health research, data science, and data visualization. Founded by Florida scientist and whistleblower Rebekah Jones, Covid Action is committed to data access and transparency during the coronavirus pandemic (and beyond).

Florida COVID Action began collecting and publishing reports of cases in schools in July 2020 as “The Covid Monitor,” and will continue to collect reports submitted by the public during the new collaboration with FinMango and Google. To learn more, click here.

Florida COVID-19 Data Update; June 15, 2021

Article by the Wolf

Since I’m still suspended from Twitter pending review, I’ll be using this forum more actively to discuss Florida’s COVID-19 data, as reported by the CDC.

I’m still getting around to seeing what we can do with the CDC made available online for hospitalization, case and death data for COVID-19 for the state.

A reminder of events from the last two weeks:

On the morning of June 4, 2021, the Miami Herald published this important piece online about what happened with COVID-19 data and reopening last May, exposing the Florida Department of Health and substantiating every point in my whistleblower complaint.

You can read a free, archived version of the article here (without audio or interactive elements)

A few hours later – the Governor’s office announced it would no longer be updating the dashboard and data systems I built for them (but STILL have not been fully paid for) 15 months ago.

Monday, the day after the Miami Herald article circulated across Florida in print (taking up three full pages of the Sunday issue), I was suddenly suspended from Twitter for tweeting out the Miami Herald article too many times and thus violating their policy regarding “spam.”

The Governor’s office bragged about the suspension (even though Desantis signed a law earlier this month to ban “big tech” for de-platforming). The Governor’s office lied about the cause of the suspension, lied about the Whistleblower complaint, and even hired a woman facing criminal charges next month for violating a restraining order taken out against her this spring. The person she stalked, harassed and defamed was me.

That brings us to today.

No more data from the Florida Department of Health, Agency for Healthcare Administration, Dept. of Corrections, etc.

Only a nine-page summary report in PDF format.

Please be patient as I work to reformat the website to adjust for these changes. I’ll be working in data from the CDC and HHS to supplement some of what we’ve lost because of this premature and reactionary move to hide the data from the public while Florida continues to be in the bottom 10 of US states in handling the virus.

While I’m suspended on Twitter, you can find me on Instagram at @GeoRebekah2

It has been my honor to serve Florida during this time.

I will continue to do that in whatever capacity I can with the limitations the Governor’s office is now putting on public access to this vital health information.


Major revisions to format, data types, and more.

With The Covid Tracking project decommissioned (don’t worry, you can still access all of their data), there have been a lot of questions about what I plan to do next with my own data resources and interfaces.

The CDC now provides more data about what’s going on in Florida than Florida’s own Department of Health (DOH), and that data often shows a much more grim picture than the state would lead people to believe.

For example, hospitalization data provided by the Department of Health and Human (DHH) Services showed 3,725 beds in use for COVID-19 patients, while the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA) showed only 2,813 (data as of 3/14 at 10:46 AM EST).

And DOH of course does not even include AHCA data on the dashboard I built for them more than a year ago, or data from the Florida Department of Emergency Management (DEM), or the Florida Department of Corrections (DOC), or any other state agency reporting COVID-19 data to DOH – the result of a juvenile “turf war” between DOH and every other state agency as to whose data would be highlighted on the website.

But hospitalizations aren’t the only place where the numbers disagree.

Testing data is another issue. According to the CDC, Florida testing volume has been on a gradual decline since the start of 2021, down 17% – a trend consistent with what we’ve observed in a number of states.

But you wouldn’t know that if you just looked at Florida’s website, which uses the way it displays data to make it appear that testing figures have been relatively unchanged. This goes back to the “how to lie with maps” discussions and selectively displaying data in a way that creates a false illusion of progress.

So this leaves me asking the question: who’s data is better? The feds, who collect part of their data from DOH, but also do their own surveillance data to “check” states like Florida with reputations for fudging numbers? Or do we continue with the plan to only include official Florida data produced by all of its respective agencies?

I’m leaning feds, but would appreciate your feedback!

Two weeks left to vote for the COVID-19 Data Hero Awards

Post by The Wolf

In late January, I wanted to find a way to give back.

I believe the support I’ve found this past year comes from a deep trust that I will use my platform and some of the money I’ve raised for good – to pay it forward.

I can’t imagine a more meaningful impact at this moment in time than highlighting the work of those who continue to work each day to bring us the COVID-19 data we need, and help us make sense of it all.

Throughout the month of February, thousands of people across the USA and Canada submitted their own data heroes to our program, representing more than 400 talented, dedicated individuals who focus on data and data science.

In the two weeks since voting opened, more than 20,000 people have visited the website to view our amazing nominees and finalists, and to cast their vote.

Please visit our page and learn about these amazing heroes, and vote for those you think have exemplified the principals and commitment that I’ve made this last year to data access, transparency and advocacy.

Online voting for the inaugural COVID-19 Data Hero Awards will continue through March 29.

Click here to vote!

Click here to visit the COVID-19 Data Hero Awards website.

Countering Some Myths About COVID-19 in Florida; October 19, 2020

Article by The Badger

As the COVID-19 situation is expected to get worse in the coming weeks in Florida, let’s take a few moments to go through a few common falsehoods you’ll encounter.

LIE # 1: Cases don’t matter. The only thing that matters is (INSERT EVER-CHANGING METRIC THAT DOWNPLAYS THE SEVERITY OF THE SITUATION).

This one’s easy. The number of cases is the fundamental measure of the state of things. Positive tests precede all other indicators and is, in general, the best, most reliable, easiest to follow measure of the spread of a disease. If you want to adjust for number of tests, or the proportion of positive tests – have at it, but it doesn’t matter that much. In every place since the start of the outbreak, as cases increase things get worse.  

But who cares about all these new cases? They’re just a bunch of stupid college kids and dumb babies that are 100% immune!

Let’s take a look at the relationship between cases and hospitalizations:

Unless hospitalizations just happen to be changing by coincidence, the number of newly sick people (as measured in cases) likely determines the number of hospitalizations. Who knew!?

As the number of new cases in the previous two weeks increases, so do the number of currently hospitalized. For every increase in 1700 cases over the previous 14 days, the number of people hospitalized increases by 100 on average.

Note that hospitalization data was only released July 10 when cases among ‘young and healthy’ people were at their highest. Even when the record-breaking surge in cases in July was being downplayed as primarily young people, it made no difference on the number that were hospitalized (at least from a statistical modelling standpoint). Despite changes in percent positivity, number of tests, proportion of young over this period – the best single predictor is the volume of cases.

LIE # 2: The number of deaths reported is not AT ALL related to the state of things right now. The Media is intentionally reporting new deaths as if they occurred yesterday to scare people and stretch out the ‘Scamdemic.’

There are plenty of people that have taken up this crusade and staked their reputation (whatever that was worth) on this lie. Despite all reputable news sources clearly stating deaths as ‘Newly Reported,’ the Deaths-by-Date-of-Death Truthers cannot be deterred! This post describes the lie in more detail, but a short summary is that deaths reported on a day did not all occur on that day. And by the Truthers logic, all deaths are therefore suspect because there is a delay in reporting and processing deaths (and may or may not be part of a devious plot by George Soros and/or Bill Gates to form a New World Order and defeat the God-Emperor, Donald J. Trump).

While ‘deaths reported’ and ‘deaths by date of death’ are not the same, they are highly correlated. Depending on the rate at which deaths are reported (which varies and is increasingly unpredictable), the two should be close in value – and are, for the most part.

Consider the following graph, showing the relationship between deaths by date reported (x-axis) and deaths by date of death (y-axis). From March through August (data within the last 45 days is considered incomplete as deaths are still being added as far back as July), the correlation is unsurprisingly high. The number of deaths reported on a day may not be equal to deaths that occurred on the same day, but they are generally tracking on a monthly or even weekly scale.

Through September and October, with deaths on the decline, the correlation will decrease. It is expected that deaths reported in October will exceed the deaths that occurred in October because of the large backlog of deaths currently being reported.

The degree of correlation will depend on the proportion of recent vs backlog deaths that are reported but they are still correlated, nonetheless. In general, as true deaths increase so does the reported deaths (and vice-versa).

Any claim that deaths reported on a particular day is ‘unrelated’ or ‘not attached to reality’ to the deaths occurring on the day is blatantly false.

LIE #3: Deaths are decreasing because Deaths by Date of Death Graph shows a decrease. This is the actual number of people that died so it must be right. Facts over Feelings, Libtard!

This is related to Lie #2. When the number of deaths by date are plotted over time, we get the infamous ‘Deaths by Date of Death Graph,’ or DBDOD graphs. See some examples below from the Florida Department of Health COVID-19 dashboard from August 4 and October 5.

No matter when this data is shown, the graph will always show an artificial plateau or decrease in deaths due to the lag in reporting – even in periods of increasing record deaths. The left panel was displayed on August 4 when there were a record 236 deaths. The right panel, while deaths are truly decreasing, shows a steady decrease to zero. (If you want to see more examples, go to Covid Tracking Project’s website where they keep daily screenshots).    

Admittedly, deaths by date is the gold standard and waiting months to identify trends is not ideal in a pandemic. Many projections of the true deaths by day rely on historical trends in death reporting and can become inaccurate with changes in reporting lag.

Some reasonable projections can be done based on this method, but the unfortunate truth is that the people spreading Lie #2 are not interested in projections of true deaths by date of death. Their sole agenda is to show decreasing deaths with no attempt to correct for the lag in reporting.

So how should this important data be presented in an honest and accurate way? One way is to remove the last several weeks or so entirely (previously DOH removed the prior three days’ worth of data, back when deaths were reported as they occurred, but DOH stopped doing that after they fired Rebekah), only showing data that is reliable and reasonably complete. What is lost in timeliness is made up for in accuracy. Even better is to add projections.

The graph above is the usual deaths by date of death graph (starting July 1) but with the projected number of deaths for the most recent 45 days added. Unlike ones that only show the reported deaths, this tells a different story – especially if deaths are increasing and a backlog is growing like what occurred over the summer in Florida. How are the projections made? Just as cases lead to hospitalizations, hospitalizations lead to deaths.

There is nothing too complicated or unexpected about how this is made. Recognizing that the number of hospitalizations on a given day is correlated with the number of deaths on the same day, we can build a simple but reasonable model using this relationship.

All data used is older than 45 days and there is some danger of extrapolation (the lowest number of hospitalized in the model is about 3500 while there are currently about 2000 hospitalized). But, unless the relationship between people hospitalized and people dying changes drastically or treatment has significantly improved in the past six weeks, it is reasonable to assume this relationship would remain stable.

Adding a second term for the cyclical nature of deaths within a week (peeking on Wednesday), we get what is shown in the graph.

It is a Poisson regression with three variables: hospitalizations, hospitalizations 7 days ago (to correct for autocorrelation) and day of week.

After finding the most likely value (red dots on the graph), we also plot 95% prediction limits to show the uncertainty in the predictions (red lines). A black dashed line is added to show the smoothed trend.

The estimated sum of outstanding deaths is shown in the bottom left corner. Based on the model, there are between 118 and 1,227 deaths (with 298 being the best estimate) that have already occurred that have yet to be reported.

Unlike the usual DBDOD graphs that portray deaths as always decreasing, a more accurate prediction shows deaths flattening, mirroring the flattening of hospitalizations. As cases and hospitalizations are expected to increase, remember that DBDOD graphs will be used to push an agenda as it was all summer even as deaths were peaking. We’ll update this as the situation changes but, in the meantime, follow the data and be vigilant. We’ve seen these lies before and we’re bound to see them again.

Florida K-12 Case Rates by District, Aug. 10- Oct. 3, 2020

Data and analysis by both the Wolf and the Badger

We’ve missed you.

For the last two months, I (the Wolf) have spent most of my time building and working on The Covid Monitor project, the national data and reporting site for COVID-19 cases in K-12 schools.

The Badger has done an amazing job keeping up with the needs of our COVID Action site, and I’ve been slowly turning over more responsibility to him as I juggle multiple obligations.

We’ve spent the last two weeks working on a paper regarding K-12 cases in Florida, which has been submitted and is currently under review.

But the paper we’ve submitted only contains a fraction of the data we have and the analysis we’ve done.

So this post is to bring you some of the stuff we couldn’t fit into that paper, as we realize parents and communities currently face tough decisions about how to approach reopening schools.

The Covid Monitor has the most comprehensive data of any single resource out there when it comes to COVID-19 cases in K-12 schools. Unlike some places that neglect to include case rates, or others that use qualitative data, we’re providing you with the best overview available of case data in Florida schools.

Summary

Across Florida (and the United States), students make up most cases in K-12 schools. Here’s a look at those proportions in Florida:

And here’s a look at Florida compared to a few other states monitored by The Covid Monitor:

% students / staffKentuckySouth DakotaMississippiFlorida
Elementary64 / 3675 / 2550 / 5059 / 41
Middle71 / 2977 / 2372 / 2864 / 36
High79 / 2181 / 1986 / 1480 / 20
Statewide totals of student / staff cases in K-12 schools. Source: The Covid Monitor.

Discussion topic added 10/17 on student vs staff cases:
Giving some thought to the student and staff case rates per 1,000 in-person students enrolled (in our paper under review), we’ve been trying to explain this pattern of fewer student cases (both by rate and as a percent of all cases) in elementary settings.

Without testing data, this would be a hard problem to examine. We’ve submitted a public records request for the same demographic testing data DOH used to release while Rebekah was managing the data systems. This would tell us how many people under 18 are actually being tested in each county.

This is key because we’re working an idea that confirmed cases might be significantly under-reported for elementary level children. Since the staff rate is fairly consistent across age groups, we anticipate there might be a large share of cases “missing” from the younger cohorts. Of course, without data, there’s no way to explore, much less prove, this hypothesis so we’re in the dark until the state releases the data requested (if they do).

Florida Data

If you’re visiting this site, you probably are most interested in cases in specific counties. Here are a few stats to keep in mind:

Source: Florida Department of Health Case Line Data
Though Lee, Polk and Taylor stopped reporting after DOH released its first school report, despite publicly condemning DOH for the widespread inaccuracies of that data.

How we gathered and analyzed this data:

We took the number of cases reported in each school district (per each district’s own reporting site) and the number of students enrolled in face-to-face instruction (per public records request to each county) to calculate the case incidence rate for the below counties. Rates are adjusted by the number of days the school district was in session, since districts opened up at various dates between August 10 – August 31. Most counties included data breakdowns of student vs staff cases, while Lee, Polk and Seminole only included total cases overall.

The case incidence rate per in-person student enrolled only includes counties who 1) report independently, and 2) provided enrollment data. We currently have outstanding requests for face-to-face enrollment data in 12 Florida counties, and have spent an indecent amount of money paying fees to get it. Once that information is received, we will add those additional counties to this list.

Student Case Incidence Rate by School District/County:

Table is ranked from highest to lowest student rate (cases per 1,000 students enrolled in face-to-face instruction only).

Total (student and staff) Case Incidence Rate by School District/County:

Table is ranked from highest to lowest total case rate (cases per 1,000 based on student enrollment in face-to-face instruction only).

Impact on Communities

The CDC noted a significant uptick in percent positivity of pediatric cases across the country after schools reopening in August:

COVID-19 incidence among school-aged children aged 5–11 years and 12–17 years by week: March 1–September 19, 2020. Source: CDC COVID-19 case report form. https://wwwn.cdc.gov/nndss/covid-19-response.html

Since that publication, similar trends have been observed not only in Florida counties, but in states across the country where schools have reopened:

Case rates over a 7-day period showing increases across the country over the last six weeks, with the lowest increases seen in the U.S. northeast and the highest in the US Midwest and US South. Source: The Covid Tracking Project, Oct. 16, 2020.

Nay-sayers will ignorantly claim that children are “immune,” or that these dramatic increases in cases aren’t causing immediate deaths, so they somehow don’t count.

Well, reports of deaths lag deaths. Deaths lag hospitalizations. Hospitalizations lag cases. Cases lag sickness.

Even with all the lag, hospitalizations are once again on the rise across the country, particularly in states where schools reopened (Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and Utah) when compared to those that did not (California and New York).

Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and Utah (states which all opened up schools in early/mid-August) hospitalizations per day. Source: The COVID Tracking Project.
California and New York did not start reopening schools in August and early September. Source: The COVID Tracking Project.

We’re working on releasing additional data pending peer-review of our article, and will keep you updated as we receive more feedback.