Fired Florida data scientist creates dashboard to track school-related coronavirus cases

By The Numbers

Rebekah Jones has partnered with Google and Florida-based nonprofits to track school-related cases of coronavirus

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A former Florida Department of Health data scientist who claims she was fired in May because she wouldn’t manipulate data is putting her skills to work now that school is back in session.

With the help of Google, Rebekah Jones has developed her own COVID Tracker to monitor school-related cases around the country.

So far, the tracker shows 1,740 schools in 204 districts across the United States have reported cases with more than 6,400 people quarantined after exposure in a school.

Source: The COVID Monitor

In Florida, 35 school districts have been impacted, with 47 student cases, 41 cases in teachers and staff and more than 540 people quarantined from possible contact with those who have been diagnosed.

In a press release on its website, creaters of the COVID Monitor say the two organizations “utilize and connect with a wide range of data providers to collect information pertaining to COVID-19, including school opening dates and formats, restrictions and policies regarding masks and distancing, and the number of cases for each district.”

After parting ways with the Department of Health in May due to what state officials called “insubordinate” behavior, Jones defended herself saying the state was asking her to manipulate data.

“She is not the chief architect of our web portal,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said in May. “She was putting data on the portal which the scientists didn’t believe was valid data.”

Jones went on to rebuild her own dashboard, rivaling the state’s dashboard.

“That I’m not a data scientist or the architect?” Jones said at the time of the governor’s comments. “Well, I kind of just built the whole site again in like, a day. So I think that speaks for itself.”

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