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Investigators debunk claims DeSantis doctored COVID numbers

Investigators debunk claims DeSantis doctored COVID numbers


Florida investigators have rejected a former health department employee’s claim that she was fired for refusing to doctor COVID stats to benefit Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The Florida Department of Health’s Office of Inspector General found “insufficient” or no evidence that data scientist Rebekah Jones was told to manipulate or misrepresent pandemic numbers, NBC reported.

Jones, who ran Florida’s COVID-19 data dashboard, received national attention after accusing superiors of fudging data to bolster DeSantis’ case to ease restrictions.

Florida officials denied her charges from the outset.

Jones, who is currently a Democratic candidate for Congress running against incumbent Republican Matt Gaetz, was fired one month after making them. She still plans to sue the state for wrongful dismissal, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

“I don’t think it was ever realistic for them to come out and be like, ‘yeah, everything she said is true, we’re sorry, my bad,’” she told the paper.

Rebekah Jones is currently running for the Democratic primaries in Rep. Matt Gaetz’s congressional district.
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Bodycam footage shows officers executing a search warrant on Rebekah Jones’ home in Tallahassee, Florida on December 7, 2020.
Police have not charged Rebekah Jones after raiding her home in Tallahassee, Florida.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement/Handout via REUTERS
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at Miami's Freedom Tower, on Monday, May 9, 2022.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has long denied his administration of forging COVID-19 data.
AP Photo/Marta Lavandier, File

Her critics have pointed to past legal incidents in attacking her credibility.

Jones was hit with a cyberstalking charge stemming from a relationship she had with a Florida State student while teaching at the school.

A DeSantis spokesperson, Taryn Fenske, has characterized her as a “discredited conspiracy theorist.”

Bodycam footage shows officers executing a search warrant on Rebekah Jones’ home in Tallahassee, Florida on December 7, 2020.
Bodycam footage shows officers executing a search warrant on Rebekah Jones’ home in Tallahassee, Florida on December 7, 2020.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement/Handout via REUTERS
Rebekah Jones Florida Department of Health
The Florida Department of Health’s Office of Inspector General concluded there was “insufficient” evidencing suggesting Rebekah Jones was forced to conspire COVID-19 data.
Florida Department of Health
Bodycam footage shows officers executing a search warrant on Rebekah Jones’ home in Tallahassee, Florida on December 7, 2020.
Rebekah Jones previously accused Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration of doctoring public health data on COVID-19.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement/Handout via REUTERS

Florida cops raided her home in December 2020 on suspicion that she sent an anonymous message to her former co-workers at the health department urging them to speak out against DeSantis and the handling of COVID data. No charges have been filed yet in that case.

The investigation into her claims of data doctoring was handled by the Florida Department of Health’s Office of Chief Inspector General, Michael J. Bennett.



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