Amidst the chaos and confusion in Florida, one ousted data scientist decided to stand up for science and help the people it can save. Florida Health data scientist Rebekah Jones was fired in mid-May after she refused to resign from her official position with the Florida Department of Health. Jones was responsible for the creation and operation of Florida’s COVID-19 data and surveillance dashboard, but after she refused orders from her superiors to unethically alter data, she was asked to resign from her position. After refusing to step down from her position, Jones was eventually fired from the Florida Department of health, but now she is taking control of the numbers and working to avoid the spread of misinformation.
Following her termination from the Florida Department of Health, Jones launched her own public data dashboard to provide the most accurate COVID-19 information she can to Floridian’s. Data that Jones provides pulls from the information in the Florida Department of Health’s data bank, but does not solely rely on their information to present the most up to date figures. Jones also wrote code that pulls information from volunteer organizations fighting the spread of COVID-19 and hospitals closely monitoring the virus. Reviewing Jones data shows a discrepancy between the data presented on the Florida Department of Health’s website, and her data due in large part to the additional resources she is pooling to present a more accurate depiction of the ongoing situation.
Jones hopes to continue her work and always present the most up to date information. She recently created a Gofundme aptly titled “insubordinate scientist” to help support the costs associated with keeping the website running and current (https://www.gofundme.com/f/insubordinatescientist). As she continues her work to combat the deadly virus, Floridians can continue to follow along with her data https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/7572b118dc3c48d885d1c643c195314e/ and her journey to keep Florida informed about COVID-19.