Early in the pandemic, Rebekah Jones wrote blog posts and reached out to media and researchers, questioning the credibility of COVID data despite no longer working for the Florida health department.
For many, Rebekah Jones is a hero. She will go down in history as a person who single-handedly exposed the truth about the coronavirus in Florida, even if officials there tried to stop her. Now, she’s being recognized for her work that cost her her job.
Jones, who previously worked as a Geographic Information Systems analyst at Florida Department of Health in Tallahassee before being fired, is being praised by Forbes for calling out the Sunshine State for allegedly misleading the public on their COVID-19 cases.
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Forbes named her their Technology Person of the Year for exposing the truth about the COVID figures in Florida, going against her employer and state officials.
“Fired in May from the state’s Department of Health for what she says was a refusal to manipulate data, Rebekah Jones launched an independent Covid-19 tracking dashboard and, later, a dashboard tracking cases in schools,” Forbes writes. “Florida officials claim that unauthorized access to the state’s emergency alert system was traced to an IP address associated with her account, an accusation Jones denies. Regardless, she is the latest technologist who stepped up to fill the vacuum left by governments during Covid-19.”
On the morning of Dec. 7, state police raided her house after the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said that Jones had been under investigation since early November when someone illegally accessed the state’s emergency alert health system.
Since her firing, Jones has become a social media sensation with almost 400,000 followers on social media. She daily criticizes GOP Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his state agencies.
Early in the pandemic, Jones wrote blog posts and reached out to media outlets and researchers, casting doubt on the data’s credibility despite no longer working for the health department. She said health department managers urged her to manipulate information to paint a rosier picture and that she pushed back. The data was crucial as the governor was trying to make highly controversial decisions on reopening Florida’s economy.
Jones was also recently honored by the Samuel Lawrence Foundation with an award for her “extraordinary work.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.