Florida Scientist Refused to "Manually Change Data" for COVID-19 Portal, Got Fired

May 20, 2020

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The scientist who says she wrote "every line of code" for Florida's COVID-19 data portal was fired Monday by the Florida Department of Health, according to USA Today. Rebekah Jones says she created two apps in two languages.


"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 wrote in an email. She says she didn't take a day off in 60 days as she worked on the system--not even when an Easter tornado destroyed her parents' Mississippi home. Jones claims she was told to censor data but personally refused to "manually change data to drum up support for the plan to reopen." Jones emailed researchers and others that changes were likely after her dismissal on May 5. "They are making a lot of changes. I would advise being diligent in your respective uses of this data," she wrote. 


Governor Ron DeSantis' spokeswoman responded to Jones' claims in a statement, only saying, "although Rebekah Jones is no longer involved, the GIS team continues to manage and update the Dashboard providing accurate and important information that is publicly accessible.”