Ben Diamond calls for AHCA Secretary to give more transparency in COVID-19 reporting

Rep. Ben Diamond is calling for more transparency in the state’s COVID-19 reports.

Diamond, a St. Petersburg-based Democrat, sent a letter to the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Simone Marstiller on Monday urging for more timely and accurate COVID-19 reporting. This call comes after the Florida Department of Health moved from daily reports to weekly reports in June, followed by a sharp rise in cases in July.

“Between the beginning and end of July, our weekly totals have more than quadrupled. Over the past week, 20% of the nation’s total COVID-19 cases were reported in Florida,” Diamond, who is also running for Florida’s 13th Congressional District, said in the letter.

The letter requests that the state resume its reporting of COVID-19 cases and deaths at each of Florida’s long-term care facilities, as well as vaccination rates among long-term care facility staff members.

“In an effort to better protect our seniors, I am requesting that the state resume its reporting of COVID-19 cases and deaths — among both residents and staff — at each of our long-term care facilities,” Diamond said in the letter. “Given the relatively high number of unvaccinated staff members working in Florida’s long-term care facilities, I believe that staff vaccination rates should also be included in the state’s reports.”

“The percentage of skilled nursing facilities with at least one staff case is growing even faster and is well above the national average,” he continued. “This is unsurprising, as Florida’s staff vaccination rates remain among the lowest in the entire country.”

Last week, the number of new cases confirmed in Florida went up 59% from the 39,349 reported for the previous week ending July 14. That’s per CDC data analyzed by Scott Powers of Florida Politics. That total was up 109% from the 18,814 cases reported the week before that, which ended July 7. That total was up 59% from the 11,859 cases reported the week before that, which ended June 30. Each of those previous three weeks’ totals also was the highest in the country for those weeks.

“Transparency and accountability are especially important now, as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Florida,” Diamond said in the letter. “Floridians deserve to know what is happening in these facilities. Without accurate, detailed and timely data, many residents and their families may not be made aware of a COVID-19 outbreak until it is too late.”

In the week ending last Wednesday, Florida saw 62,382 new cases emerge, according to data compiled and presented by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That weekly total, presented in a national comparison, is almost twice as many new cases as seen in Texas during the same week, almost three times as many as California, and 20 times as many as New York.

On Friday the state report offered an even higher seven-day total: 73,199. According to the latest state report, about 60% of those eligible to receive a shot have been vaccinated in the state, or 11,469,755 individuals.

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