Gov. DeSantis lashes out at school coronavirus reports

Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at Aug. 27 news conference in Tampa. (The Florida Channel)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday pushed back against a report compiled by his administration that detailed coronavirus cases linked to schools, saying “it was not necessarily accurate” and that it remains under review.

Department of Health Secretary Scott Rivkees, a DeSantis appointee who also serves as state surgeon general, requested the report, according to the governor.

Health department spokesman Alberto Moscoso said the report was “inadvertently” released to the public on Monday.

The report is no longer available.

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DeSantis, who has pushed schools to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, complained that the school-related data was “misrepresented” to the public.

“It was acting like this was something that was triggered by the school year, which is totally not true,” DeSantis told reporters Thursday at a press conference in Tampa. “If you take some of those cases at face value, those would have been infections that would have happened long before that.”

The report included a section that outlined COVID-19 cases reported at elementary, middle and high schools between Aug. 10 and Aug. 23. During that period, 25 school districts had reopened in accordance with a July 6 statewide mandate that required schools to offer in-person instruction by the end of August.

DeSantis also complained Thursday about media headlines that focused on the number of coronavirus cases on campuses, rather than schools’ COVID-19 positivity rates or numbers of asymptomatic cases.

“I think that is very significant, and I think people would want to know that,” he argued.

A number of Florida colleges and universities that have reopened this month are reporting positive COVID-19 cases among students and staff, but the schools do not break down the number of symptomatic and asymptomatic cases.