As Health Dept., CDC Jostle Over COVID-19 Numbers, Expert Has Own Dashboard

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While Florida's health department and the CDC jostle over COVID-19 case numbers, University of South Florida epidemiologist Dr. Jason Salemi created his own dashboard to track the data.

“I have been studying these data and the way the information is reported for quite some time,” Dr. Salemi said. 

Dr. Salemi, even with all his training, found tracking COVID-19 had his head spinning. So he set up this dashboard that takes government data and compiles it into weekly numbers.

“Right now, I do feel like what I put on my dashboard does give a good representation of where we’re at, and unfortunately, being a native Floridian, the numbers are just not good,” Dr. Salemi said.

The numbers Dr. Salemi worries about now are shown across the state and by county so residents can see what’s going on where they live.

“I know there has been a lot of politicization of the numbers and thinking that something nefarious is happening — things are being hidden — again, I have really lived these numbers and even though I don’t work for the agencies that create the data, I feel like they have given us an accurate representation of where we are in the pandemic," he said.

Months after Gov. Ron DeSantis limited public information on COVID-19, his critics continue to demand more details.

“It’s about crisis management. There is no way to effectively manage a crisis when you are not communicating and sharing data people need to keep their families safe," said State Rep. Christine Hunchofsky.

The state has not been directly releasing daily details about new COVID-19 case numbers as it did for the first year of the pandemic, but Thursday, the governor appeared to consider releasing more information directly.

"In terms of breaking it down by county, that may not be a bad idea, I know we used to look at that a lot," DeSantis said.

Dr. Salemi told us that he is very concerned about the number of people in hospitals across the state. When it comes to the tug of war between the CDC and the Florida Health Department, we reached out to both of them Thursday but didn’t hear back from either.

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