Questions about death statistics COVID-19

FORT MYERS

Statistics on causes of death have a real impact. They can determine state and federal funding and guide health care decisions. Pensions and life insurance premiums are partly based on death rates.

WINK News viewer Rhonda Brewer took an interest in the leading causes of death in the state of Florida in 2020 in the historic pandemic year 2020.

“I’ve spent the past few months trying to get information from the Florida Department of Health about what the COVID-19 deaths were for 2020, and I’m frustrated with that process. I haven’t received that information until now, so I thought WINK News could help me,” said Brewer.

“I first started with our local health department who said they collected all that data several months ago and forwarded it to the Bureau of Vital Statistics, but they were unable to generate the report. I spoke to the Bureau of Vital Statistics. I’ve also contacted the assistant surgeon general’s office, who referred me to other people in the Florida health department,” Brewer said.

Trust and Verify Reporter Lisa Hutson called the Florida Department of Health but didn’t answer.

A month of phone calls, emails and voicemails asking about the leading causes of death in the state of Florida in 2020 went unanswered.

The Centers for Disease Control released preliminary data in March 2021 showing that COVID-19 is the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States.

In Florida, the CDC Estimates COVID-19 took the lives of 21,828 Floridians in 2020, accounting for about 9% of all deaths in the state.

These are estimates, but not certified results.

“I want to see a line item there with COVID 19 and see how it’s factored into all those other major causes so we know exactly what happened in 2020 by county in this state,” Brewer said. “We’re going to have to measure the cost of this pandemic and how it’s affected us all, and one way we can do that is by measuring the death toll to see that actual impact.”

Florida State Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith of Orlando is seeking the same information as Brewer and more. Together with the Center for Government Accountability, he is the plaintiff in a lawsuit against the Florida Department of Health to force the release of statewide COVID-19 data.

At the direction of the governor’s office, the Florida Department of Health stopped sharing daily COVID totals in June 2021 and moved to less detailed weekly reports.

“The DeSantis administration’s decision to end daily COVID 19 reporting wasn’t just bad politics. It’s against the law. It violates our state constitution when it comes to public records, which is why we are suing them,” Representative Guillermo Smith said.

Guillermo Smith alleges that the administration of Governor Ron Desantis is exceeding its legal authority to hold the public’s data.

“The state is fighting us at every turn. They don’t want the former Surgeon General to be impeached and sworn in. They’re blocking any DOH (Department of Health) company representative testifying in the case, so it begs the question, what are they hiding?

After a month of requests, the Florida Department of Health has updated its list of leading causes of death to include 2020 deaths.

Their data lists COVID-19 as the third leading cause of death in Florida in 2020, the lives of 19,157 Floridians. Only heart disease and cancer scored higher.

WINK News again contacted the Florida Department of Health to inquire about the sudden data dump, but received no response.

As for the lawsuit against them, FDOH says they cannot comment on pending lawsuits.

Representative Guillermo Smith says a trial date for his lawsuit against the FDOH has been set for December, but further delays could occur.

Trust WINK News to keep you informed.

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