Under pressure last week as COVID-19 hospitalizations soared in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office said the state would start reporting daily hospitalization data for all 67 counties.
DeSantis on Tuesday, however, refused to address the fact that the state has yet to make good on its promise when asked by a Miami Herald reporter.
“Obviously not everything is presented in this report but just an unbelievable amount of data is available,” DeSantis said at an indoor press conference held at Florida’s 12th COVID-only nursing facility near Miami International Airport.
He did not respond to a follow-up question from CNN correspondent Rosa Flores as to why the state does not publish daily hospitalization data.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who sat next to DeSantis at the Tuesday event, ordered hospitals in the county to report patient admissions, ICU capacity, ventilator inventory and other data every day starting on April 4. The number of people entering hospitals each day for COVID-19 is key data that public health experts monitor to measure the potential strain on hospital systems and the seriousness of the disease’s resurgence.
Florida is an outlier among states in not reporting the number of patients currently hospitalized with COVID-19, the highly infectious respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Instead, the Agency for Health Care Administration reports daily hospital bed capacity while the state Department of Health reports the total number of patients admitted to hospitals during the course of the pandemic, not the number of people actively in a hospital at a given time.
Lots of other data
At the press conference, DeSantis pointed to the health department’s daily report, which he had printed out in front of him, instead of addressing why state agencies haven’t yet released the data.
“They have so much raw data on there,” he said, flipping through the papers. “It’s really incredible … people do the charts and the graphs and everything. That’s all available for folks and they are able to do it.”
When asked by the Miami Herald earlier this week, the governor’s office said it still planned to publicly report the data, but would not specify a timeline. Public health officials and experts have told the Herald that the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration possesses the data, but the agency has not responded to requests to provide it.
State health department officials have told researchers that the department does not track current hospitalizations.