We've now reached the point where red states are openly lying about COVID-19 fatalities in order to help the GOP.
Acting under intense pressure from a coalition of Florida news organizations and open-government advocates, the state Wednesday evening released a list of every Florida fatality documented by a medical examiner resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.
The information was so riddled with holes, however, that it sparked as many questions as answers.
Missing from the data set were the names of those who have perished from COVID-19, the illness caused by coronavirus infections, the probable cause of death (there can be multiple factors) and the circumstances of the person’s demise.
Several news organizations, including the Miami Herald, had for weeks sought access to the list, which is compiled by individual medical examiners and maintained by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Earlier the state had been providing it.
The head of the Florida Medical Examiner’s Commission, which governs the state’s 21 medical examiners, has insisted the information — including the names — is subject to disclosure under the state’s public records law. The administration of Gov. Ron DeSantis, which oversees state health regulators, has warned the examiners to keep the information secret.
“The Department of Health is telling the medical examiners it cannot release this information that the medical examiners have been releasing on a regular basis,” said Barbara Petersen, president emeritus of the First Amendment Foundation, an open-government watchdog in Tallahassee.
“For whatever reason, our governor is trying to hide information — first about nursing homes, and now from medical examiners. They are trying to paint a rosy picture by refusing to provide us accurate information that allows us to make informed decisions about the health and safety of our families,” Petersen said.
“It’s a disservice to the citizens of the state of Florida.”
The data, while incomplete, provide a glimpse into the lives of the 1,300 to 1,400 people who died from coronavirus in Florida since the pandemic swept the state.
A similar situation is playing out in Arizona.
In an email Monday night, the Arizona Department of Health Services disbanded its team of modelers, which was predicting the spread of the coronavirus and advising state leaders on the impacts of reopening the state.
The modeling team consisted of at least 23 researchers from Arizona State University and University of Arizona. They produced at least two reports for ADHS, which were publicly released after repeated requests from ABC15 and other news agencies.
Steven "Rob" Bailey, an ADHS bureau chief, sent the email to the modeling team Monday evening, just hours after Governor Doug Ducey announced his intentions to open restaurants and beauty salons in the coming days.
A copy of Bailey's email, obtained by ABC15, said, "We've been asked by Department leadership to 'pause' all current work on projections modeling."
Bailey added that he wanted the team to know as soon as possible so they "won't expend further time or effort needlessly." He mentioned the possibility that the team may be called upon again in late summer or early fall.
The email said ADHS would also "pull back the special data sets which have been shared" with the researchers who are no longer assisting the department. The letter thanked the modeling team members, but it gave no reason for discontinuing their work.
Tuesday afternoon, an ADHS spokesman sent ABC15 an email explaining the decision.
It said, "The reason that ADHS is pausing the internal modeling is, as we have said before, we are looking at several national models and have determined that FEMA is the most accurate to help us develop and implement public health interventions to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak."
Again, we have the two states with the largest number of retirees per capita, the age group most vulnerable to COVID-19, reopening the state's businesses and taking overt steps to hide data from the people.
This is not an accident.
This is the GOP trying to keep seniors in the dark.