As coronavirus cases continue to rise, Florida has stopped tracking how many COVID-19 patients are in ICU beds
A sign advises beach visitors to wear a mask on June 17th, 2020 near Anglins Pier in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea
John McCall / South Florida Sun Sentinel / Tribune News Service via Getty Images
The state of Florida announced on Tuesday that the number of coronavirus patients in intensive care beds is not recorded.
The change is coming as coronavirus cases are on the rise in the state.
A data scientist who helped build the coronavirus tracker in Florida put more effort into the move to make it look like the state of things would improve before the July 4th holiday.
The state said it was an effort to better track the more serious cases.
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Florida was one of the first states to withdraw public health orders and reopen stores in mid-May. Now that the number of cases there continues to increase, the Department of Health has stopped recording the number of coronavirus patients treated in intensive care hospitals.
The announcement came on Tuesday after Florida Sentinel announced more hospitals in Florida that all beds in the intensive care unit were full.
In the past, hospitals were asked to report the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care beds themselves. Now it is only expected how many patients will be treated in these beds in the intensive care unit.
The health ministry told Business Insider on Wednesday that the change aims to better track the more serious coronavirus cases, as some hospitals have used intensive care beds for patients who do not need intensive care.
Governor Ron DeSantis discussed the policy change during a press conference on Tuesday.
"What we achieve is visual acuity. When people go to the hospital, we want to know what percentage needs to be treated in the intensive care unit and a ventilator needs to be put on," DeSantis said, according to Sentinel. "Far less need ventilators than we thought at the beginning. After going through this for months, a case today is no longer the same as a case on March 30th."
While the state says the change is an attempt to refine their data collection, former state data scientist Rebekah Jones went on Twitter on Wednesday morning, describing the move as a "key element" to keeping the state open before July 4th.
The number of new cases reported daily in Florida has more than quadrupled since the state reopened on May 4. Almost 5,500 new cases were registered on Tuesday, a new high.
Medical workers watch a Blue Angel and Thunderbird formation fly over Mount Sinai Medical Center on May 8, 2020 to greet first responders and other key personnel in Miami, Florida.
REUTERS / Marco Bello
Former state data scientist says the state tried to manipulate coronavirus data
Jones, a top researcher who helped develop Florida’s coronavirus tracker, said in May that she was released because she refused to interfere with data on COVID 19 cases in the state.
The state said her dismissal had followed "repeated insubordination", and Jones has since launched her own community coronavirus dashboard in Florida.
On Wednesday, Jones again accused the state of attempting to manipulate coronavirus data to make the situation look better than it really is.
"Florida announced yesterday that it was no longer counting the availability of ICU beds, a key element in keeping things open so the state could proceed to the next phase until July 4th," she wrote on Twitter.
Jones also said that several sources from the Department of Health have informed her that they have been instructed this week to change coronavirus numbers by "deleting deaths and cases" so that Florida looks like it will be there before July 4th improve.
The Ministry of Health denied that this was the case with Business Insider.
"It is obviously wrong to say that the Ministry of Health manipulated all of the data," spokesman Alberto Moscoso said in an email.
The change will have no impact on the way hospital bed availability is calculated or reported.
Rebekah Jones aka #Insubordinate #scientist
BREAKING: 1 OF 3: Florida announced yesterday that ICU bed availability is no longer being counted, a key element in keeping things open so the state can proceed to the next phase through July 4th.
00:20 - June 24, 2020
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Coronavirus was diagnosed in 111,973 people in Florida between March 1 and Wednesday, according to Jones' independent state dashboard. The state dashboard has recorded 109,014 cases.
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