Orlando Dispatch

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Government (White House officials) secretly hijacked Florida’s COVID-19 Surveillance Dashboard

Rebekah Jones in her office at the Florida Department of Health.

As Florida slowly reopens, the government (White House officials) secretly hijacked Florida’s COVID-19 Surveillance Dashboard and forcibly removed Rebekah Jones, the woman who designed and oversaw the project.

When the COVID-19 virus outbreak hit Florida and the public needed information, Jones was ready for action. As the geographic information systems (GIS) manager for the State of Florida Department of Health (DOH), she built the state’s COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard, an interactive website that provides key information on the virus, detailed down to the county level.

“I started from scratch and decided what I thought was important,” said Jones, a geospatial scientist who earned a dual bachelor’s degree in geography and journalism at Syracuse University. “I really wanted people to be able to quickly, easily, and clearly understand what the numbers are in our state.”

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rebekah jones, ocala news, covid-19 dashboard
Rebekah Jones ’12, geographic information systems (GIS) manager for the Florida Department of Health, collaborates with a teammate in the State Emergency Response Center. “I am proud of the extraordinary hard work and dedication of the Florida Department of Health epidemiological team and GIS personnel,” says Florida Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees. “Providing access to real-time information is an integral part of Florida’s COVID-19 response.”

In an email to Ocala Post, Jones said that she was removed because she refused to falsify and sensor data.

According to Jones, she was ordered to sensor data to support reopening the economy.

“The government wanted me to manually change data, and I refused,” said Jones.

The move was done quietly until Jones decided to speak up. Afterward, she was fired.

Ironically, the Dashboard was previously touted by the White House as the most transparent and up to date information pertaining to COVID-19.

In a warning to the public, Jones wrote, “I do not expect the new team to have the same level of accessibility or transparency.”

She said that because she was forthcoming and transparent with the data is the reason she was forcibly removed from the project.

“This change was not voluntary at all like the government would like the public to believe,” said Jones.

She said she refused to support certain agendas.

Led by Jones, Florida’s COVID-19 Survellience Dashboard was created by a team of highly educated Florida Department of Health data scientists and public health officers. Now, Jones said the Dashboard is in the hand of politicians and bureaucrats who have zero experience.

State Attorney for the 15th Judicial Circuit, Dave Aronberg, said, “These allegations are disturbing. Manipulating the data on Florida’s COVID-19 dashboard could cost lives.”

Florida Department of Agriculture Commissioner, Nikki Fried, praised Jones.

Fried wrote, “Thank you, Rebekah Jones, for not being afraid to speak out.”

Health officials in Florida are now calling for a full investigation.

As for the COVID-19 Dashboard, Jones says that the information now being posted could be falsified. Jones said this was easy to see when data unexplainably went missing recently.

The public may have also noticed that since the website was confiscated on May 5, that the website has been slow and crashes from time-to-time.

Analysts called the takeover absurd and said that removing or cutting off certain data is the same as concealing a hurricane forecast knowing it will hit.

The White House nor the DOH returned Ocala Post’s request for comment.

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