The scientist, who created Florida’s Covid-19 data portal was reportedly fired on Monday by the Department of Health for refusing to manipulate data.
The scientist Rebekah Jonas said in an email to the international news agency that she alone developed two applications in 2 languages, 4 dashboards, six unique maps having layers of data functionality for 32 variables comprising of half a millions of data. Rebekah said that she aimed to help Floridians and researchers coronavirus situations in real-time.
However, Rebekah said that she was dismissed. She said, “I worked on it alone, sixteen hours a day for two months, most of which I was never paid for, and now that this has happened I’ll probably never get paid for,” She mentioned in the email that she was fired from her designation as Geographic Information Systems manager for the Florida Department of Health. She was not reallocated on May 5.
Jonas confirmed that she was ordered to censor some data. But she denied to “manually change data to drum up support for the plan to reopen.” She was then fired.
She wrote in the email, “They are making a lot of changes. I would advise being diligent in your respective uses of this data,”
Researchers reacted to the email and suggested that Gov. Ron De Santis’ government might be censoring the data to support re-opening Florida.
Lucky Tran, a biologist and public health communicator at Columbia University, shared his opinion in tweets, “When politicians censor scientists and manipulate the numbers, the rest of us suffer,”
US Congresswoman representing Tampa Bay, Kathy Castor wrote: “Floridians will not feel safe in opening up without transparency.”
Rebeka Jonas also said in the email that she is going to launch a Spanish-language version of the dashboard. She wrote, “Please be patient as we get all this connected and running smoothly, and do let me know if you see any errors.” It was the same day she was not allowed to manage the dashboard.