WASHINGTON D.C. — A White House coronavirus task force report warned that expanding community spread should be addressed immediately in Florida by expanding mitigation policies in counties with increasing cases and daily hospitalizations.
That report, indicating Florida was again in the COVID-19 red zone, was issued on October 25 but only recently became public, causing some members of the state's congressional delegation to ask what took so long.
What You Need To Know
- White House coronavirus task force issued a report on Florida response on October 25
- Lawmakers are questioning why it was only recently made public
- Both Dems, GOP say they're concerned about lack of COVID-19 transparency
"I don't understand," said Republican U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney, whose 19th District includes Fort Myers and Naples. "I think transparency and openness are a good way to keep the fears down, to make sure people understand the nature of the problem."
Olivia Troye is a former member of the White House croronavirus task force who left her post during the summer after witnessing what she considers an inadequate response to the pandemic.
She said the lack of timely distribution of COVID-19 statistics in Florida should concern all of the state's citizens.
"In the case of Florida, unfortunately, that governor has not been as transparent as would be helpful, given the situation," Troye said. "... When you're not seeing the data, and the facts aren't being given to you, it would give me pause. I would take a step back and say, 'Why aren't they sharing this with us?'"
U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, a Democrat whose district includes Hillsborough County, said the release of information could save lives, but holding it back could do the opposite.
"This is very serious," she said. "I think hiding public health data will cost lives, and it has cost lives."
Public officials on both sides of the aisle have said they are kept in the dark about the White House coronavirus task force's warnings and recommendations in Florida's most recent reports.
"Without that information, without the data, people are flying blind," said Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, whose congressional district includes Orlando. "They are having to make decisions without full information."
Gov. Ron DeSantis's office did not respond to repeated requests for comment on why the reports have been held up and how his administration evaluates them.