The Florida Department of Health fired back at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention late Monday after the national public health agency amplified false information about the COVID-19 surge in the Sunshine State.
What did the CDC claim?
As the White House and Democrats continue targeting Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) for his leadership amid the COVID pandemic, the CDC claimed Monday that Florida recorded 28,317 daily COVID cases on Sunday, Aug. 8.
The number, if true, would have set a new record for daily cases in Florida.
But what is the truth?
According to the Florida Department of Health, the CDC circulated not just a misleading number but one that was entirely false. The state health agency said the CDC combined multiple days worth of cases and reported that number as a single-day count.
"Wrong again. The number of cases @CDCgov released for Florida today is incorrect. They combined MULTIPLE days into one," the FDOH said. "We anticipate CDC will correct the record."
In fact, Florida recorded 15,319 COVID cases on Sunday, more than 13,000 fewer than what the CDC claimed. The three-day average over the weekend was 18,795 daily cases, the FDOH said.
It's not clear why the CDC published a miscalculation.
According to the Miami Herald, the CDC published the figure after combining, then dividing, the weekend case total.
One lawyer noted that the CDC has been updating Florida's case numbers from the weekend on Tuesdays, making Monday's update uncharacteristic. Still, the lawyer explained the CDC has been adding Florida's weekend total, then dividing it by the number of weekend days to formulate an average number of daily weekend cases.
The FDOH confirmed this is how COVID case reporting works for weekend data.
"Florida follows CDC guidelines reporting cases Monday through Friday, other than holidays. Consequently, each Monday or Tuesday, there will be two or three days of data reported at a time," the agency explained. "When data is published, it is attributed evenly to the previous days."
Why the weekend total was seemingly divided by two, instead of three, is not clear.
A spokeswoman for DeSantis wrote from her personal Twitter account Tuesday that she does not believe the CDC intentionally reported miscalculated figures, but called on the agency to immediately correct its data.
"To be clear: I don't have any evidence that the CDC reported the wrong COVID case number for Florida intentionally," Christina Pushaw said. "It could have been an honest mistake, so I don't want to jump to conclusions. But to clear things up, @CDCgov needs to correct the record & explain to the public."