TAMPA, Fla. — The role data plays in the midst of a global pandemic can't be overstated.
It's all we have right now so scientists are doing everything they can to compile it, aggregate it, and make recommendations based on the best information we have at the time.
Access to data during the pandemic has been a point of contention when Florida and the state's Department of Health have been under fire since the spring for allegedly manipulating data, making data hard to comprehend and publishing data either by mistake or with errors.
In Florida where there's perhaps little confidence in data published at the state level, it's beneficial to have federal data as another resource. However, weekly reports issued by the White House Coronavirus Task Force seem to be getting stalled in Tallahassee.
According to leaders with Covid Exit Strategy, these reports with valuable COVID-19 information and recommendations regarding reopening and public policy are being distributed to state governors. It's up to governors to release them publicly.
We got a glimpse into these incredibly revealing reports in July when Hillsborough County, Florida, was featured in a White House press briefing as one of the country's most dangerous hot-spots for coronavirus transmission.
A short time later, another extensive report compiled for the White House Task Force was obtained by the non-profit group Center for Public Integrity.
At the time, the July 14 report recommended 18 states should scale back reopening including Florida.
Recommendations stated that Florida should return to more stringent control measures in counties with rising test percent positivity and scale back from Phase 2.
Suggestions included mandating masks in all counties with rising test percent positivity, keeping bars closed and decreasing indoor dining.
Now, three months later, those weekly reports seem impossible to track down.
10 Tampa Bay requested all White House Task Force documents pertaining to Florida. Spokespeople with the Florida Department of Health and Governor Ron DeSantis' office said they were in receipt of our request.
"This report got locked down. It continued to get distributed to the governors’ offices. The vice president’s office said it’s up to the governors to share if they want to," said Ryan Panchadsaram, who's leading the Covid Exit Strategy in their efforts to compile as much data as possible.
"This report is actually kind of incredible. It’s so detailed. It tells you which are the hot spots, which places are over the hump that are actually doing a really good job of tackling COVID as well as I think every week, they write recommendations on what governors should be thinking about," Panchadsaram continued.
Panchadsaram believes only 13 states are sharing their reports on a weekly basis.
What other people are reading right now:
- How to watch the Rays play in the 2020 World Series
- Tropical Storm Epsilon forms in the Atlantic
- Welcome to 'Champa' Bay: Can the Rays, Bucs keep the streak going?
- NASA set to 'TAG' asteroid the size of the Empire State Building in historic mission
- Polls suggest Biden, Trump neck and neck in Florida
- What you need to know about the 6 constitutional amendments on Florida ballots
►Breaking news and weather alerts: Get the free 10 Tampa Bay app
►Stay In the Know! Sign up now for the Brightside Blend Newsletter