| Florida Times-Union
One day after the Florida Department of Health published a report saying Duval County had 24 school-related positive COVID-19 cases and three college-related cases in less than two weeks, the agency removed the reports from its website.
Monday, The Florida Times-Union reported on a new, school-focused COVID-19 report published on the Florida Department of Health’s website. The report said 559 COVID-19 cases related to elementary, middle and high schools were recorded between Aug. 10 and Sunday. It also said an additional 1,351 elementary, middle and high school-related COVID-19 cases were recorded by the department between March 1 and Aug. 10.
Now, Alberto Moscoso, the Florida Department of Health’s director of communications, says the report was a draft and “inadvertently made available.” The link to the report now leads to a 404 error page.
The update from Moscoso followed questions from the Times-Union about inconsistencies and discrepancies in the Monday report.
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As noted by the Times-Union, in Martin County, where almost 400 students are in quarantine, the state reported 26 school-related COVID-19 cases — only two more than Duval County, where public schools have been in session three days as of Monday. Private schools largely started the week of Aug. 10.
The state also reported that Duval County had only three college-related COVID-19 cases since Aug. 10 while schools that are self-reporting are saying those numbers are higher. The University of North Florida alone has reported 13 student and employee COVID-19 cases since Aug. 10.
“The Schools and Daycares COVID-19 Surveillance Reports were in draft form and representative of an ongoing effort by the Department to publicly and transparently report case data associated with Florida’s schools and childcare facilities,” Moscoso said. “These draft reports were inadvertently made available on a Department archival site and not yet finalized. They remain under review as the Department verifies that data is accurately reflected.”
But, as the Times-Union pointed out to Moscoso, Monday’s school-related COVID-19 report wasn’t the only one published by the department of health. School-related reports for Saturday, Sunday and Monday were made available Monday and accessible through the department’s report archive section. Since then, they’ve all been removed.
Moscoso said the school-related reports “remain under review” while the Department of Health verifies the data. Once verified, he said those reports would be made available on the www.FloridaHealthCOVID19.gov, but that it could take days or weeks.
“The Department remains committed to public transparency and expeditiously providing the most up-to-date information available regarding COVID-19 in Florida,” Moscoso said.
The Times-Union pressed Moscoso for the methodology behind the numbers gathered in the published — now removed — reports but did not receive a response.
Emily Bloch is an education reporter for The Florida Times-Union. Follow her on Twitter or email her.