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Former COVID-19 data worker Rebekah Jones

Coronavirus in Florida

Former COVID-19 data scientist says older patients driving virus surge

As positive tests skew older, danger looms for Florida.

The Governor unceremoniously fired a data scientist who did key work on Florida’s COVID-19 dashboard weeks ago, yet the person’s piercing critique of the state’s approach to the virus fight continues.

Rebekah Jones, in comments Tuesday to CBS News, continued her critique of information from the state that she contends is less than accurate.

Jones countered Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ contentions on a number of fronts, including shifting rationales for what caused the spike in diagnoses in recent weeks, such as the young causing the spread.

While there has been an “increase overall,” in Southeast Florida (an epicenter of the virus), Jones noted that “we actually see a disproportionate number of the older population.”

“The median age … is four years older in Miami-Dade and Broward than the rest of the state,” Jones noted. “The areas where the largest volumes of the cases exist, there actually is an older population responsible for most of the surge.”

Trends in the South Florida hotspots mirror, or perhaps foreshadow, what is happening elsewhere. The median age of positive tests is creeping back up, now at 40 years of age, suggesting that community spread among younger populations is insinuating its way into more mature demographics. Comparatively, two weeks ago, half of the new cases were in people 33 and younger.

Young people are getting tested, Jones added, because of their propensity for exposure, being in “the type of jobs largely forced to reopen or lose their unemployment benefits.”

The “large influx of testing,” Jones added, reveals “a surge of cases that is extremely concerning and upsetting.”

“The surge of cases over last two weeks plus whatever from the July 4th weekend” makes Jones believe “we’re going to see something extremely worrying.”

The surge is real: as of the most recent numbers from the Florida Department of Health, 213,794 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in total in the state.

And the pace is speeding up.

Florida crossed 200,000 overall cases Sunday.

To get its first 100,000 cases, the state took 114 days. The second 100,000 took less than two weeks.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at

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