Florida health department responds to discrepancies in COVID data reporting
Former department of health worker says ".. if your numbers are different it's because they've deleted cases in that file."
By Daniela Hurtado | August 6, 2020 at 9:19 PM EDT - Updated August 6 at 9:39 PM
SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The ABC7 team discovered discrepancies in some of the COVID-19 totals the state was reporting. Every day the state releases new data for COVID-19. When our team tried to crunch the numbers ourselves we kept coming up with different totals.
For example, the Florida Department of Health reported 7,683 new statewide cases of COVID-19 on Thursday.
We did the math ourselves and when we compare the case total from Thursday which was 510,389 minus Wednesdays total 502,739 we get 7,650. That’s 33 cases fewer than the state is reporting.
That's not the only discrepancy we found.
In Manatee County, the DOH is reporting 105 new cases but our math shows there are actually 112.
In Sarasota County, we calculated 85 new cases but the state data is recording 95.
ABC7 reached out to the state and county health departments but they declined to interview.
However, the Florida Department of Health did issue this statement regarding why their data is not lining up. They state their “Data should not be added or subtracted day to day and report to report, because as epidemiological investigations progress, more data often becomes available.”
“That’s not an answer as to why they’re changing them which is what you asked,” said geographer and founder of Florida COVID Action, Rebekah Jones.
Rebekah Jones helped create the COVID database and managed all the data until she was fired by the state. She says she was let go because she refused to falsify data.
"DOH will have a different number because what they're reporting is the new cases for that date, that calendar date. And if your numbers are different it's because they've deleted cases in that file," said Jones.
The state health department also said “that data is then utilized to update case statistics, both current and historical” and point out “It’s important to note that data is provisional and subject to change.”
Something they also have written on in their daily state report. Jones says there’s an evident problem when you can’t fact check the numbers.
“They could put out anything and say hey things change and there would be no accountability for it. And that’s whats happened. There’s no accountability at DOH,” said Jones.
Jones and several other people including epidemiologists created their own dashboard you can view it here.
Below are totals compared from Thursday to cases reported on Wednesday.
The state reports 120 new deaths bringing the total to 7,747 from 7,627.
112 new reported cases in the county. The state reports Manatee County now has a total of 9,050 cases of COVID since March. On Wednesday the state reported 8,938 total cases.
State data shows one more person died in the county from a COVID related death. The total is now 189.
Seven new hospitalizations reported in the county report Thursday morning bring the total of hospitalizations to 589.
Latest data on Thursday morning from the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration reports there are 81 people hospitalized with COVID in the county.
The state says it received 2,146 COVID-19 test results Wednesday in Manatee County. Results brought a 4.7% positivity rate.
85 new reported cases in Sarasota county on Thursday morning. The state data shows 6,025 total cases of COVID-19 in the county since March.
The state county by county report shows two more person died in the county from a COVID related death. The total is now 130, Wednesday they recorded 128.
Seven new hospitalizations reported in the county report Thursday morning bring the total of hospitalizations to 361.
FL AHCA data shows 90 people currently hospitalized with COVID in the county.
The state says it received 1,690 COVID-19 test results Wednesday in Sarasota County. Results brought a 5.3% positivity rate.
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