Florida ordered coroners to stop releasing coronavirus death data: report

Source: The Hill | April 29, 2020 | Zack Budryk

Florida officials have reportedly withheld medical examiners’ data on coronavirus deaths in the state for over a week, with the policy changing shortly after the Tampa Bay Times reported that the medical examiners were counting 10 percent more deaths than the state.

Stephen Nelson, the chairman of the state Medical Examiners Commission, told the Tampa Bay Times that the state health department intervened and told him it planned to remove causes of death and case descriptions from mortality data.

Nelson told the newspaper the data is meaningless without that information, and the entirety of the list should be considered public information.

“This is no different than any other public record we deal with,” he said. “It’s paid for by taxpayer dollars and the taxpayers have a right to know.”

Alberto Moscoso, a spokesman for the state health department, told the Times that the department “participated in conference calls” with the state Department of Law Enforcement, which provides administrative support to the Medical Examiners Commission, saying the discussions pertained to “privacy concerns for the individuals that passed away related to COVID-19.”

He said the state did not provide a formal legal opinion during the calls.

In March, the agency attempted to persuade the Miami-Dade County medical examiner’s office to restrict access to death records, according to the Times, citing correspondence between the two agencies. The county ultimately released the records, including the names of the dead.

Hillsborough County, meanwhile, refused to release records for weeks before eventually releasing a list on Tuesday of those identified as dying from the virus after questioning from the newspaper. The Palm Beach County Medical Examiner, which previously provided a spreadsheet of coronavirus-related deaths, was directed by county attorneys last week to stop releasing it, according to the Times.

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  •  EVERYDAY #38573

    I have suspected that the number of deaths, both at the federal and state levels, are being inflated. Same with the number of positive cases. In Pennsylvania, there was a flap over including in the death toll a number of “probable cause” deaths — that is, COVID 19 was the suspected cause of death, but not confirmed. Even in those decedents who tested positive for the virus, how do we know they did not die from some other cause, such as an underlying condition, and not from COVID 19?

    Would really like to know if I’m right and if so, why would anyone want to inflate the numbers. Is it part of an effort to blame Trump and cause him to lose in November?

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