Florida Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D-FL-49) filed suit against the Florida Department of Health (DOH) and outgoing Surgeon General Scott Rivkees over a public records request for Orange County pediatric COVID data.
Smith has said the DOH and Rivkees denied him the request and said they “falsely stated they were ‘confidential’ under state law, even after making those same records available for nearly a year on the Department’s daily COVID dashboard.”
Smith posted on Twitter that Judge John C. Cooper, the judge who struck down Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ mask mandate ban, has been assigned Smith’s lawsuit.
“LAWSUIT UPDATE: Judge Cooper has officially been assigned our case in our lawsuit against the #DeSantis administration seeking public health records and transparency in COVID-19 data reporting,” Smith posted. “@FLCTRGA and I have asked for an immediate hearing and eagerly await a formal date!”
LAWSUIT UPDATE: Judge Cooper has officially been assigned our case in our lawsuit against the #DeSantis administration seeking public health records and transparency in COVID-19 data reporting. @FLCTRGA and I have asked for an immediate hearing and eagerly await a formal date! https://t.co/uHYbMmhpK4 pic.twitter.com/aKF7dFy2TD
— Rep. Carlos G Smith (@CarlosGSmith) September 7, 2021
The Florida Center for Government Accountability joined Smith’s effort in suing the state and has made similar requests for all of Florida’s 67 counties. Each request has also been denied.
Smith previously said he feels the state should resume its daily case reporting dashboard.
“All Floridians have a right to receive critical public health data in a timely manner in order to make informed decisions to protect the health and safety of their families, but the DeSantis administration has consistently refused to release COVID related public records, which not only hurts our efforts to contain the deadly virus, it’s also against the law.
And that’s why we’re suing them to obtain the public records. our constituents are entitled to under article one section 24 A of the Florida constitution and to force the state to resume daily COVID dashboard reporting and avoid future litigation on this matter.”
The DOH ceased publishing daily COVID data, and instead has been providing the information to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the form of a weekly report.
DeSantis has previously suggested Florida could go back to reporting its COVID data daily, saying it might be a good idea.
“In terms of breaking it down by county, you know, that might not be a bad idea going forward,” DeSantis said last month. “I know we used to look at that a lot.”
The lawsuit is not seeking monetary or punitive solutions, but is asking for the requested data.
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