Lawsuit accusing Florida of withholding COVID-19 data at height of pandemic moves forward

click to enlarge Lawsuit accusing Florida of withholding COVID-19 data at height of pandemic moves forward
Photo via Florida Health

A Leon County circuit judge has scheduled a two-day hearing next month in a lawsuit alleging the Florida Department of Health has violated public-records laws by refusing to provide detailed data about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Judge John Cooper issued an order this week scheduling the hearing on Nov. 9 and Nov. 10. State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, and the Florida Center for Government Accountability filed the lawsuit in August after the Department of Health rebuffed requests for daily information about COVID-19 cases, positivity rates, hospitalizations, deaths and vaccinations.

Several major news organizations joined the lawsuit to back Smith and the non-profit Florida Center for Government Accountability.

The Department of Health has argued that Cooper should reject the lawsuit, contending that requested reports don’t exist and that underlying data is confidential. Cooper had scheduled a hearing in late September, but it was postponed because a lead attorney for the plaintiffs had a death in her family.

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