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Ousted designer of Florida's COVID-19 site says emails prove state asked to change data

rebekah jones on CNN.JPG
Dr. Rebekah Jones made national headlines this week after telling CBS12 News her removal was "not voluntary" and that she was removed from her position because she was ordered to censor some data, but refused to "manually change data to drum up support for the plan to reopen." (CNN/WPEC)

The woman fired from her role with Florida's COVID-19 dashboard broke her silence Friday, saying she has emails that prove Florida Department of Health (DOH) officials asked her to change data on the state's website, according to an interview with CNN.

Dr. Rebekah Jones made national headlines this week after telling CBS12 News her removal was "not voluntary" and that she was removed from her position because she was ordered to censor some data, but refused to "manually change data to drum up support for the plan to reopen."

In her Friday interview, Jones said she has internal emails that show her superiors asking her to take certain data down from the state's widely used dashboard, including asking her to take the site down entirely.

CBS12 News has reached out to Jones, requesting a statement or other documentation. But as of Friday night, CBS12 News has not received the emails and thus, are unable to independently verify her claims.

Jones claims she was asked to restore the website with the original data roughly a day later, only after reporters questioned why the data was deleted. State officials have reportedly said the data was taken down to be reorganized.

"They’re lying because asking me to delete data and hide information and not make it publicly accessible was a bad decision," Jones told CNN. "It was the wrong decision that I stated very clearly."

Jones also claimed she clashed with state officials over COVID-19 data in rural counties, saying she brought COVID-19 information to her superiors that demonstrated several rural counties did not meet the criteria to reopen. Jones claims her superiors then soon changed the criteria for reopening rural counties.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has said Jones was fired for insubordination and for putting data on the website against the judgement of state doctors.

"If refusing to mislead the public during a health crisis is insubordination, then I will wear that badge with honor," Jones said.

Jones, who is currently facing open criminal charges of sexual cyber harassment and cyberstalking, announced previously that she had been removed from her position.

"It is unfortunate that Ms. Jones has been thrust into this spotlight," an attorney for Jones told CBS12 News. "I am certain that appropriate investigation and inquiry from oversight committees and other investigative agencies will reveal what has happened and why it has happened."









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