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Lawsuit filed against Florida Department of Health over COVID-19 data

Posted at 6:47 PM, Sep 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-01 18:47:52-04

The Florida Center for Government Accountability and State Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith from Orlando are suing the Florida Department of Health. They want the department to release daily COVID-19 data like once before.

Back in June, the state stopped, and now that the contagious delta variant is spreading, Representative Smith says that information is needed now more than ever.

"So we're using the DeSantis administration not only to obtain the public health records at the local level, that we were denied unlawfully by the Department of Health. But we are also suing to force the state to resume daily COVID-19 dashboard reporting,” said Smith.

Smith says he put a request in with the state in July to help local officials determine where the community hotspots of the virus are, who's the most impacted, and help determine local pandemic protocols. But the state told him that information was confidential and exempt from public disclosure.

"We're not asking for patient names or their social security numbers. We're asking for raw data,” said Smith. "You can't make an informed decision on what a school masking policy is going to be or what the social distancing policies are going to be without access to real-time information as it relates to COVID-19 in your area."

Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay also shares the frustration. McKinlay said having daily data released will help local officials allocate resources to communities who need it.

"Last year, we had gathered ZIP code-level data that allowed us to identify hotspots on a daily basis and be able to target resources into those communities to prevent further community spread, “ said McKinlay.

"Trying to get the state to cooperate and give Floridians the information they deserve. critical local public health data related to COVID so that they can make informed decisions and how to best protect themselves and their families from this deadly virus," said Smith.

WPTV reached out to the State Department of Health for comment, but we have yet to hear back.

Meanwhile, the lawsuit is also asking for an immediate hearing at some point in the next week or ten days.