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Florida surgeon general says delayed COVID-19 death reporting needs further review

(AP Photo/Francisco Seco, File)
(AP Photo/Francisco Seco, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Nearly every day since March, the Florida Department of Health has been reporting coronavirus numbers. Only one day was missed in October after a data dump gave the DOH 400,000 already reported results.

Now, according to the Tampa Bay Times, Florida’s state officials are discussing possibly scaling back back on those daily reports.

The Tampa newspaper said that a spokesperson for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told media group NewsNation that officials were considering not releasing daily reports because it requires staff monitoring and collecting the data 24 hours a day.

In a Tweet, DeSantis’ communications director Fred Piccolo Jr. said that wasn’t true and that there was no plant to change the reporting schedule.

Now add to the confusion, the Florida’s Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees is calling for a more thorough review of fatalities reported to the state because of the lag time between the deaths and when the data was released.

Data showed that of the 95 fatalities reported to the state on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 16 had more than a two-month separation between the time the individuals tested positive and passed away, and 11 of the deaths occurred more than a month ago, according to Rivkees.

Of the 95 fatalities reported to the Florida Department of Health on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 11 were over 30 days old, 16 had at least two months between the time the individuals tested positive and passed away, and 5 had at least three months between the time the individuals tested positive and passed away.

“During a pandemic, the public must be able to rely on accurate public health data to make informed decisions. To ensure the accuracy of COVID-19 related deaths, the department will be performing additional reviews of all deaths. Timely and accurate data remains a top priority of the Department of Health,” Rivkees said.

Related links

List of cases by city in South Florida

Hospital bed capacity and availability

Coronavirus cases in Florida schools

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