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Gov. DeSantis says he supports releasing coronavirus school data in Florida

Investigations

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — As two more Tampa Bay area school districts resumed in-person learning on Monday – Hillsborough and Sarasota counties – 8 On Your Side questioned Gov. Ron DeSantis about data concerning COVID-19 cases inside our schools.

Last week, the state removed a report that revealed coronavirus cases in day cares, schools and colleges across the state during a critical two-week period in August.

According to the Florida Department of Health, the school infection report was just a draft. State officials say the report was mistakenly posted on the state’s website and it was potentially incomplete.

At a news conference in downtown Tampa on Monday, 8 On Your Side asked Gov. DeSantis about school infection data.

“Governor, will you release information about the number of students and staff with COVID at specific schools, and how fast can we get this data?” asked investigative reporter Mahsa Saeidi.

“So, the surgeon general addressed that this morning, so that was his thing,” said Gov. DeSantis. “What I’ve said is, put out as much information as we have.”

But right now, Florida is not releasing all the information it has – yet.

Here’s what the state is releasing about children under 18 years old: Since March, nearly 49,000 young people have been infected, 611 have hospitalized and eight have died.

That’s according to a pediatric report posted on DOH’s website.

Public health experts believe having complete data in one report would show the true virus impact as we reopen schools.

The governor says the focus needs to be on in-school transmissions and the symptomatic.

“If you’re positive, are you sick? If you’re sick then, we need to help you. If you’re not sick, can you spread it to someone else?” said Gov. DeSantis. “It’s also important whether someone is infected in school or not because you have people that are coming to school, they didn’t get infected in school in a lot of these cases.”

Back to the school data that was taken offline, 8 On Your Side pressed the governor to commit to releasing the report as soon as possible so parents could easily make an informed decision about keeping their kids in the classroom.

Gov. DeSantis referred us to Florida Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees. Late Monday, we reached out to DOH to see when the completed school infection report would be released.

Many of our local school districts are also releasing coronavirus data.

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