State Audit Reveals Florida Undercounted COVID Deaths by Thousands

The state of Florida released Monday an audit that found that the information it released to the public in early months of coronavirus pandemic is inaccurate and incomplete.

The report, which was prepared by the Florida Auditors General over the last year, is available here examined the state’s COVID-19 response from March to October 2020.

The audit reviewed a sample of tests from three separate state-run facilities in its investigation — and ultimately came to the conclusion that data on case and death counts frequently went unreported, and that the state often failed to adhere to protocols regarding the virus.

For example, state-contracted labs failed to return results for approximately 60 percent of the tests administered over that eight-month period. Of the results that were returned, many didn’t include critical demographic information, failing to record a person’s ethnicity 60 percent of the time and failing to account for their race more than half of the time.

Auditors also found that the state didn’t conduct contract tracing for 23 percent of the positive cases it identified — put another way, close to one in four Floridians who tested positive for coronavirus during the early months of the pandemic were never told they had the virus in their systems, the audit concluded. Even when people were notified of their positive results, many weren’t alerted until well after they got tested — in some cases, more than a week later.

The audit also revealed that Florida officials had underestimated the number of deaths in the state. More than 3,000 additional COVID-19-related deaths were reported by physicians than were on the state’s official list of total deaths during the first eight months of the pandemic.

In the report, the Florida Auditor General stated that routine checks were not conducted on data collection to ensure accuracy. According to the report, no follow-up was done when discrepancies were discovered.

The report confirms what many Floridians had warned about in the early days of the pandemic. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and other right-wing lawmakersthey claimed that businesses and other entities were safe enough for reopening despite instituting few statewide precautionary measurescoronavirus is still present.

For example, the first year of a pandemic were the most severe. The state forbade local medical examiners publishing their own numbers. on COVID-19 deaths after their numbers conflicted with the state’s official reports. Rebekah Jones was a state employee who was responsible for updating infection numbers throughout the state. She claimed that the numbers were being manipulated.

DeSantis often downplayed the virus’ dangers, and even Campaign materials that were critical about national health officialsHe urged people to take the pandemic seriously.

Reporting shows that Florida is seeing an increase of cases. nearly 10,000 new cases of COVID-19 per dayOver the past two weeks. More than 74,700 Floridians have died due to coronavirus since the pandemic began more than two years ago — a figure that’s equivalent to the entire population of Daytona Beach.