Florida lawmaker warns state’s COVID-19 death rates are flawed

A Florida legislator warned his colleagues against using the state’s COVID-19 death rate data to make public policy decisions after an analysis found compromised data and an inflated death rate, according to a Fox 35 Orlando report.

Jose Oliva, a Republican from Miami Lakes, Fla., who serves as Florida House speaker, ordered an analysis of the state’s COVID-19 death rate data and sent a memo to lawmakers with the results. The analysis was based on 13,920 COVID-19 death certificates provided by the Florida health department. Errors were identified in 60 percent of the death certificates, according to the report.

The analysis also pointed out that medical examiners instead of physicians signed most of the death certificates. The analysis concluded that the state’s death rate should be described as the number of people with COVID-19 who died instead of the number of people who died from COVID-19, and estimated current methodology inflated the state’s death rate by 10 percent.

“Our leaders cannot build upon the soft-footing of compromised data,” Mr. Oliva wrote in the memo that accompanied the analysis.

However, not all lawmakers in the state see this analysis as credible. “What this comes down to is this is COVID-19 deniers,” Rep. Anna Eskamani, a Democrat from Orlando, said to The News Service of Florida. “I hate to say it, but this is a complete attempt to downplay this pandemic that has destroyed lives across the country and world.”

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