On December 7, 2020, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) served a warrant at the residence of Rebekah Jones, former Department of Health employee and searched her home taking several pieces of electronic equipment. Dr. Jones gained national notoriety when she accused the state of attempting to hide the truth about COVID-19 cases. She was a Florida Department of Health data manager at the time and involved with the COVID-19 dashboard.
FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen provided this statement.
“Our investigation began last month following a complaint by Florida Department of Health that a person illegally hacked into their emergency alert system. As part of our investigation, FDLE agents served a search warrant this morning at the Centerville Court residence where Ms. Jones lives after determining the home was the location that the unauthorized message was sent from.
“Agents knocked and called Ms. Jones both announcing the search warrant and encouraging her to cooperate. Ms. Jones refused to come to the door for 20 minutes and hung-up on agents.
“After several attempts, Ms. Jones allowed agents inside. Agents entered the home in accordance with normal protocols and seized several devices that will be forensically analyzed. At no time were weapons pointed at anyone in the home. Any evidence will be referred to the State Attorney for prosecution as appropriate.”
Dr. Jones has a doctorate degree in geography and was involved in presenting the COVID-19 data from a geographic perspective. Her complaint about the COVID-19 dashboard changes centered around the removal of the Event Date column for COVID-19 cases from the “Person Cases” data export. The column was removed on the morning of May 4th and added back the evening of May 5th. The column was removed at the request 0f the State of Florida Epidemiologist overseeing the data. The Epidemiologist’s justification for the temporary removal of the column was that there were possible issues with the data and it needed to be verified against other official sources.
Dr. Jones raised concerns in the press that the removal of the column was an attempt to hide COVID-19 related data. After raising issues in the press Dr. Jones was fired.
According to the DeSantis Administration she was fired for insubordination:
“Rebekah Jones exhibited a repeated course of insubordination during her time with the department, including her unilateral decisions to modify the department’s COVID-19 dashboard without input or approval from the epidemiological team or her supervisors,” DeSantis spokeswoman Helen Ferre said in a statement. “The blatant disrespect for the professionals who were working around the clock to provide the important information for the COVID-19 website was harmful to the team.”