TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA)—Less than 24 hours after the press secretary for Gov. Ron DeSantis said Florida may “scale back the report frequency” of COVID-19 data, his office is now saying something different.
Fred Piccolo, Jr., communications director for DeSantis, told 8 On Your Side on Wednesday that it “wasn’t going to happen anytime in the near future unless we get a vaccine soon,” echoing comments he made around the same time on social media.
Epidemiologists and public health experts say the daily release of the data is especially important while the U.S.—and the rest of the world—continues to fight the pandemic.
Especially since winter is coming.
“This is just not a good time to not have that granular information available,” said Dr. Jason Salemi, an epidemiologist at the University of South Florida. “When you’re seeing a big rise in cases across the country, big surges in certain areas. This is the time of year where a lot of those people from other parts of the U.S. are flocking to Florida. If they’re infected with the virus, they’re certainly bringing that into Florida.”
Salemi runs his own Florida COVID-19 tracking website where you can dig into the data more.
He also said it’s not an ideal time because cases are currently going up in nearly every demographic group in Florida, except two: kids aged 0-4 and seniors over the age of 80.
“It just seems like a bad time. It would be very different if we were in a different world—we’ve got a vaccine, or the cases are so low it’s only a handful every day—then that kind of modification makes sense,” Salemi said.
In what may have been an odd coincidence, Florida’s Department of Health was much later than usual in releasing its state report on Wednesday, which it said came out at 1:25 p.m.
You can access Florida’s daily COVID-19 data by clicking the “See State Report” link at floridahealthcovid19.gov.