Officials in Florida have reportedly blocked the state’s medical examiners from releasing their daily updates of coronavirus deaths, after their reports showed fatality numbers greater than authorized government figures.
Earlier this month, The Miami Herald revealed that the COVID-19 death count recorded by the state’s 22 medical examiners was 10 per cent higher than the number published by the Florida Department of Health.
On April 11, the Florida Department of Health reported that 419 people across the state had died from the coronavirus, while the state’s Medical Examiners Commission had recorded 461 fatalities.
Officials subsequently pulled the medical examiners’ list from public view, claiming it needed to be reviewed in light of the discrepancy.
However, they have not yet provided any update, with critics now accusing officials of a lack of transparency.
As of Wednesday evening, state officials are reporting 33,193 COVID-19 cases and 1,218 deaths.
Officials in Florida have reportedly blocked the state’s medical examiners from releasing their daily updates of coronavirus deaths, after their reports showed fatality numbers greater than authorized government figures. A COVID-19 patient is pictured being escorted to hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on April 2
Since the coronavirus outbreak began, all 22 medical examiners across Florida have been sending detailed information about each COVID death to the state’s Medical Examiners Commission, which then complies the information on a central list.
The list does not name any of the victims, but features demographic information and case summaries.
As of Wednesday evening, state officials are reporting 33,193 COVID-19 cases and 1,218 deaths. A tally from the Medical Examiners Commission is not currently available
Dr. Stephen Nelson, the chairman of Florida’s Medical Examiners Commission, says state residents have the right to access that information.
‘This is no different than any other public record we deal with,’ he stated.
‘It’s paid for by taxpayer dollars and the taxpayers have a right to know.’
Dr. Nelson further claimed that fatality records compiled by Florida’s Medical Examiners Commission had been publicly available for every state disaster since Hurricane Andrew back in 1992.
Florida officials’ handling of the coronavirus crisis has been in headlines since the outbreak began. Golfers are pictured in Miami on April 29, after the city partially reopened parks. State officials insist they are not under reporting COVID-19 fatalities
Officials say there is nothing nefarious about the discrepancy between their death count and the medical examiner’s tally.
They insist they are not under reporting the number of COVID-19 fatalities in Florida.
One spokesperson from the Florida Department of Health told The Tampa Bay Times that a lag in reporting could explain the discrepancies.
Additionally, the state only counts Florida residents in their death toll. The Medical Examiners Commission, on the other hand, records all deaths, including visitors.
This is especially consequential given that many elderly people from northern states fly south to spend time in Florida.
A man suspected of suffering from COVID-19 is taken to hospital in Fort Lauderdale on April 20
Meanwhile, Florida officials’ handling of the coronavirus crisis has been in headlines since the outbreak began.
Governor Ron De Santis came under fire for not immediately closing beaches to spring breakers who were seen crowding the shores in Miami.
Meanwhile, Jacksonville officials attracted ire when they reopened their beaches for swimming, fishing and surfing nearly two weeks ago.
On Wednesday, Gov DeSantis announced a plan to reopen most of Florida on May 4. However, South Florida – including the heavily hit Miami-Dade county- will remain under stay-at-home orders for the time being.
Jacksonville officials attracted ire when they reopened their beaches for swimming, fishing and surfing nearly two weeks ago