Florida has a genius plan to flatten that curve and make coronavirus deaths disappear! Well, not disappear, exactly. The victims will still be dead, they just won't be part of the state's official tally. And isn't that basically the same thing?

The Tampa Bay Times reports that the state's Department of Health has ordered Florida's medical examiners to stop releasing a list of coronavirus deaths. This comes after an April 11 Times article that documented a 10 percent disparity between the health department's tally and that of the examiners:

The Florida Department of Health's count of coronavirus deaths reached a grim milestone Friday, surpassing 400 and climbing to 419.

But at least 40 additional people who had died from the virus in Florida were missing from the state's count, the Tampa Bay Times has learned.

Those deaths are reflected in another tally that's being kept by the state's medical examiners. On Friday, it stood at 461, 10 percent more than the health department's announced number.

In yesterday's follow-up, the Times reports on the department's shifting explanations for the discrepancy.

Maybe releasing the records violates patient privacy and is somehow illegal! The agency has cited to no provision of Florida law which makes death by coronavirus more private than death by cancer or murder. Indeed, as the paper notes, releasing this information has been standard practice in every emergency dating back to Hurricane Andrew in 1992.


Nevertheless, some of the state's 22 medical examiners offices have stopped providing a breakdown of coronavirus deaths in their area. For instance, "The Palm Beach County Medical Examiner used to provide a spreadsheet of its COVID-related deaths, but was directed last week by county attorneys to stop releasing it, that office's operations manager, Paul Petrino, told the Times."

Or perhaps they're just hiding the raw data so as to be more accurate. The Department of Health told the Times earlier this month that it was excluding non-Florida residents who died in the state from the totals "so they are not inadvertently listed twice." Whether it has been standard practice in previous disasters to cull through the death rolls seeking to purge anyone without legal Florida residency was not immediately clear. But perhaps this is what the Department of Health meant when it told examiners that their lists might have to be "reviewed and redacted."

Most likely, however, Governor DeSantis and his cronies are hiding information just because they can. It was only two weeks ago that his administration finally backed down and started releasing information on coronavirus deaths in the state's nursing homes and prisons. And they only did it after the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times threatened to sue the department for violating the state's public records law.

But DeSantis desperately needs those death numbers to go down to prove that his plan to reopen the state is good public policy, after he got absolutely hammered for refusing to close the beaches during spring break. And if the books have to get a little bit cooked to make it happen, well, sorry, snowbirds, ya should have died back home!

In the meantime, DeSantis's own Baghdad Bob is spending her time getting into a Twitter flame war with Soledad O'Brien.

Ooooh, Muslim-baiting! Great, that's just what this problem needs.

[Tampa Bay Times / Tampa Bay Times, again]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.

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