Florida IG Rejects Conspiracist Rebekah Jones’s ‘Unsubstantiated’ Covid Cover-up Claims

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A former dashboard manager at the Florida Department of Health made “unsubstantiated” claims that Governor Ron DeSantis’s administration fired her because she refused to obey her superiors’ instructions to fudge the state’s Covid-19 data, a new investigation has found.

The extensive report from the Health Department’s Office of Inspector General found “insufficient evidence” that Rebekah Jones was ordered to falsify, alter, or misrepresent Covid positivity rates on the state COVID-19 Data and Surveillance dashboard that she helped build.

In December 2020, Jones alleged that former Florida deputy secretary of health Dr. Shamarial Roberson, a reputable chronic-disease epidemiologist, pressured her to “delete cases and deaths” to sugarcoat the state’s handling of the Covid crisis. Jones later backtracked, arguing instead on her now-suspended Twitter account that Roberson “asked me to go into the raw data and manually alter figures.”

The report addressed Jones’s accusations that Roberson, as well as two other state health officials, directed her to restrict access to underlying data that supported what was presented on the dashboard, finding them “exonerated.” The three confirmed that they told Jones to temporarily remove the “data hub” before reactivating it after it was reviewed for accuracy, which the report determined “does not appear to violate law, rule, or policy since the ‘data hub’ was not required to be made available,” and since it was quickly restored unchanged. Another reason the officials took down the section was to prevent private individual health information prohibited from public disclosure from being released.

Jones’s most dramatic claim that Florida hid deaths, purportedly by not in­cluding nonresidents in its headline numbers, to portray its Covid-19 management in a more favorable light was not probed in the report. At the time, she also claimed that Florida’s “excess death” number, defined by the CDC as “the difference between the observed numbers of deaths in specific time periods and expected numbers of deaths in the same time periods,” was dubious.

The conclusion from the inspector general’s office comes after Jones was granted whistleblower status last May, which effectively gave her the freedom to advance a complaint of wrongdoing without retaliation but made no judgment on its merits.

Jones still stands by her wrongful-termination claim that she was dismissed for refusing to take part in a massive cover-up, even though the inspector general’s investigation found no evidence to support it, and the state fired her for insubordination.

She currently awaits a trial on a felony charge of illegally accessing government systems and downloading private personnel data. She also has a misdemeanor stalking charge, stemming from a different incident in which she was fired from Florida State University for having sex with a student in her class.

Last May, Jones got into an Internet kerfuffle with then-little-known Christina Pushaw, who was subsequently appointed to become DeSantis’s press secretary, after she wrote a piece about Jones for Human Events titled “The ‘Florida-19 Whistleblower’ Saga Is a Big Lie.”

Since the scandal erupted, Jones has leveraged the limelight to raise enough money to run as a Democrat in an attempt to oust Florida Republican Representative Matt Gaetz.

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