Whatever Happened to Fired Covid-19 Data Manager Rebekah Jones?

“Exterior had been greater than half a dozen officers in tactical vests brandishing a sledgehammer and automated weapons. Palms held excessive, she opened the door…”

A brand new article contains video of that second — and describes not solely what happened then, but what’s happening now, and what’s going to happen next:

It was April 2020 when Rebekah Jones says they first requested her to vary the numbers. Then a 30-year-old scientist on the Florida Division of Well being (DOH), she’d spent almost two months constructing the platform that the state was utilizing to offer day by day updates to the press and public on COVID-19, together with variety of checks, confirmed instances, hospitalizations, and deaths. Jones was so happy with the dashboard — which included six maps and lined half 1,000,000 strains of knowledge — that she monitored it for as much as 16 hours a day. However now, a prime state official was telling her to vary the check positivity charge of sure counties to align with the state’s most threshold for reopening, based on Jones… “There have been counties that had, like, 18 or 20 % positivity,” Jones recollects. “And she or he was like, ‘Nicely, simply change it to 10….'”

At first, she says, she laughed out loud: “I believed it was a joke…. I used to be fired for refusing to control information to drum up assist for the governor’s plan to reopen…”

It was [Governor] DeSantis who brought the fight to her doorstep — figuratively, then actually… The state claims it traced the message to Jones’s IP handle. Jones claims they knew her IP handle from when she labored from dwelling… “If DeSantis thought pointing a gun at my face was a great way to get me to close up, he is about to be taught simply how incorrect he was….”

In January, she was charged with a felony for allegedly accessing the state emergency message system. If convicted, she might face 5 years in jail and a $5,000 tremendous. By then, she had moved her household to the D.C. space, in hopes of placing this chapter behind all of them and beginning over. She needed to return to Florida to show herself in or else threat extradition. She drove the almost 1,000 mile, two-day journey alone, decided to maintain her youngsters from reexperiencing the trauma of policemen pounding down their door… The morning she was supposed to go away, Jones began feeling unwell… The subsequent day, she completed the drive — “it was a miracle I didn’t die or kill somebody in my automobile,” she says — and was booked into the Leon County Detention Facility, the place she examined constructive for COVID-19… She was remoted to maintain from exposing different inmates…

[S]he is nonetheless continuing with a whistleblower criticism towards the Florida DOH, which is pending. And she or he’s nonetheless operating her personal unbiased Florida COVID-19 dashboard, Florida COVID Action, which she began final June after being fired. She finally raised greater than $500,000 on GoFundMe to assist assist the location (alongside together with her dwelling bills). She’s additionally wrapping up work on The Covid Monitor, a venture with the nonprofit FinMango that makes use of Google instruments to assist doc COVID-19’s unfold at faculties. The work has helped her survive the longest yr of her life (and, fairly frankly, many individuals’s lives)… She’s writing a ebook about her expertise. And though she’d like to get one other job working in science, she’s not holding her breath. “I have never met a whistleblower who has landed on their ft any time within the rapid aftermath of whistleblowing,” she says wryly.

When requested what she hopes to get out of her lawsuit, she pauses after which says, “An apology. I need a fucking apology.”

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