DeSantis Administration Pushes Back Against Fried’s Faulty COVID Data

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Members within Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration have pushed back against Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried’s faulty COVID data regarding Florida’s school districts. In the effort, Fried made the claim Florida’s schools that have mask mandates have fared better than schools without mask mandates. The DeSantis administration called the data “misinformation.”

The data Fried used stemmed from a sharable, view-only OneDrive Excel document containing week-by-week COVID data for each county’s school district. However, over half of Florida’s school districts were not included in the document.

In response, the Florida Department of Health pushed back against Fried’s claims.

“Today, the Florida Commissioner of Agriculture, Nikki Fried, released misinformation regarding school data that lacks epidemiological accuracy and credibility. The Florida Department of Health, the State’s public health agency and lead on all infectious disease control, welcomes the opportunity to debunk a multitude of issues found during the seven minute, thirty second presentation on inaccurate data representation.

There is no evidence that schools are high risk locations of spread. A study supported by CDC and completed by the State Epidemiologist, alongside the State Surgeon General and other top experts at the Department of Health, found that fewer than 1% of students had school-related COVID-19.”

On Twitter, Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo said Fried’s methods “are weak.”

“Hi @NikkiFriedFL! Correlation is not causation,” Ladapo said. “Who on your team conducted this epidemiological study? The methods you used are weak.”

DeSantis’ press secretary, Christina Pushaw, said in an email to the Florida Capital Star that, in Fried’s data, there are “very basic errors that render the result worthless.” Pushaw also said Fried is pandering to conspiracy theorists.

“With her press release today, Commissioner Fried is pandering to conspiracy theorists who believe, without evidence, that ‘Florida is hiding its COVID-19 data,’” Pushaw said. “In fact, all COVID-19 case data is collected and reported by the Florida Department of Health, which, again, is not Fried’s agency. Her spokesman Franco Ripple did admit that all the data Fried references is publicly available. She just cherry picked it without any expert statistical analysis.”

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Grant Holcomb is a reporter at the Florida Capital Star and the Star News Network. Follow Grant on Twitter and direct message tips.
Photo “Nikki Fried” by Nikki Fried.

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