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State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith Sues Florida DOH To Release COVID-19 Data

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A snapshot of the Florida Department of Health COVID-19 dashboard from March 2021. Image: Florida Department of Health

State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith is suing the Florida Department of Health over coronavirus case numbers. Smith, a Democrat who represents District 49, joined with the Florida Center for Government Accountability in the lawsuit.

He says the Department of Health and the state surgeon general, Dr. Scott Rivkees, denied public information requests for daily pediatric case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths for Orange County, along with a broader request for COVID-19 data in all 67 counties, claiming the information is confidential.

He wants the state to resume its daily case reporting dashboard.

“All Floridians have a right to receive critical public health data in a timely manner in order to make informed decisions to protect the health and safety of their families, but the DeSantis administration has consistently refused to release COVID related public records, which not only hurts our efforts to contain the deadly virus, it’s also against the law,” said Smith.

State Rep. Carlos Smith. Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE

“And that’s why we’re suing them to obtain the public records. our constituents are entitled to under article one section 24 A of the Florida constitution and to force the state to resume daily COVID dashboard reporting and avoid future litigation on this matter.”

The CDC is reporting daily case numbers for Florida and other states, but the Department of Health stopped releasing daily COVID-19 data on its dashboard in June, instead providing a less detailed weekly summary.

Gov. DeSantis has been touring the state to promote the monoclonal antibody treatment sites to treat people who’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19 as a way to keep them out of hospital.

Smith said the Governor needs to do more.

“There’s nothing wrong with Governor DeSantis also making sure that the public knows about effective antibody treatments, once they have already contracted COVID in order to avoid hospitalizations. But the governor has all but walked away from the number one tool that we have to most effectively prevent the transmission of COVID, which is, of course, the vaccines that are free and very easily available to anyone who wants them.”

The Florida Department of Health did not responded to a request for comment on the lawsuit.

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Matthew Peddie

About Matthew Peddie

Host of WMFE's Intersection & Assistant News Director

Matthew Peddie grew up in New Zealand and studied journalism at the University of Western Ontario. After graduating with an MA in Journalism he returned to Christchurch, working as a reporter for Radio Live and Radio New Zealand. He’s reported live from the scene of earthquakes, criminal trials and rugby ... Read Full Bio »