The woman who was fired recently from her role with Florida’s COVID-19 dashboard is now telling her side of the story.
In an interview last Friday with CNN, Dr. Rebekah Jones says she has emails proving that Florida Department of Health (DOH) officials asked her to change data on the state’s website.
Last week, Jones told media outlets that her removal from the position was “not voluntary,” and that she was fired because officials ordered her to censor data on the dashboard, but she refused to “manually change data to drum up support for the plan to reopen.”
Jones told CNN that she has internal emails that demonstrate her supervisors asked her to remove certain pieces of data from the state’s dashboard, including asking her to take down the site completely.
She alleges that she was then asked to restore the website with the original data about a day later, and only when reporters questioned why the data was deleted.
State officials have said the data was removed to be reorganized.
Under the direction of President @realDonaldTrump, I have directed all Florida and United States flags to be flown at half-staff until Sunday May 24 in honor of the victims of the novel coronavirus pandemic. See the President’s Proclamation here – https://t.co/WhXp44UYW1
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) May 22, 2020
“They’re lying because asking me to delete data and hide information and not make it publicly accessible was a bad decision,” says Jones. “It was the wrong decision that I stated very clearly.”
She claims that she argued with state officials over COVID-19 data in rural counties, saying she brought information to management that demonstrated several rural counties in the state did not meet the reopening criteria. Jones claims that supervisors then changed the criteria for reopening rural counties.
Gov. Ron DeSantis says Jones was terminated for insubordination, as well as for putting data online against the judgement of state doctors.
“If refusing to mislead the public during a health crisis is insubordination, then I will wear that badge with honor,” Jones says.
Jones is currently facing open criminal charges of sexual cyber harassment and cyberstalking in an unrelated situation.