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Gov. Ron DeSantis Blasts Health Dept. Worker Rebekah Jones Fired In Data Dispute

ORLANDO (CBSMiami) - Governor Ron DeSantis addressed the removal of a state employee who helped create the state's COVID-19 dashboard.

Rebekah Jones, who helped create and run the dashboard, said she was removed for refusing to censor some of the data in order to create support to reopen the state.

During an appearance with Vice President Mike Pence in Orlando on Wednesday, DeSantis said Jones is not a data scientist and was disobedient to her superiors.

"What she was doing is she was putting data on the portal which the scientists didn't believe was valid data. So she didn't listen to the people who were her superiors, she had many people above her in the chain of command. And so she was dismissed because of that and because of a bunch of different reasons about how she did," he said.

DeSantis also pointed out that Jones had been facing criminal charges for stalking last summer. That case is pending. Two other charges of cyberstalking and cyber sexual harassment were dropped. Court records show the charges stemmed from a romantic relationship that turned bad.

"So I've asked the Department of Health to explain to me how someone would be allowed to be charged with that and continue on because this was many months ago. I have a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment. So her supervisor dismissed her because of a lot of those reasons and it was a totally valid way. But she should have been dismissed long before that," he said.

Florida's Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried is demanding answers in Jones' termination.

She requested that the surgeon general and the Department of Health officials answer questions about her firing.

In a letter to Governor Ron DeSantis, she says that these actions undermine public trust in our government, are extraordinarily dangerous to public health.

CBS4 reached out to Jones but she said she isn't giving interviews.


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