Jose Oliva questions COVID-19 death toll

The Florida House speaker on Tuesday called into question the state’s COVID-19 death toll, warning that it was based on compromised data and used a methodology that inflated death rates.

Speaker Jose Oliva sent a memo Tuesday to all House members announcing the findings of an-in house analysis he ordered of the state’s COVID-19 death numbers and cautioned lawmakers against using the data for policy purposes. The death totals are released daily by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration.

“Precision in data is imperative, not just for proper decision-making, but also for public confidence and consistency of response,” Oliva wrote in the memo accompanying the analysis. “The great disparity of perspective between the political parties has been further exacerbated by the loosening of process and fidelity to established norms in classification. Our leaders cannot build upon the soft-footing of compromised data.”

Oliva issued the memo and analysis weeks before he leaves office following the Nov. 3 elections. New lawmakers and new leaders will be sworn in during a Nov. 17 organization session.

Rep. Anna Eskamani said she initially was surprised by Oliva’s memo, given the Florida Senate’s recent decision to hire Tampa General Hospital to develop an infection-prevention plan to take steps to

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