1 of 5 | Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis attends the 911 Commemoration Ceremony at the National September 11th Memorial and Museum in New York City on September 11. On Monday, it was announced that his administration has agreed to release COVID-19 public records as part of a settlement stemming from a lawsuit regarding infection rates and other health data. File Photo by Peter Foley/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 9 (UPI) -- After the settlement of a lawsuit filed in 2021, Florida will again release COVID-19 data.
The administration of Gov. Ron DeSantis has agreed to release COVID-19 related public records as part of a settlement stemming from a lawsuit regarding infection rates and other health data.
Carlos Guillermo Smith, a former state representative, sued the Florida Department of Health and Dr. Joseph Ladapo, the Florida surgeon general, in 2021 when they stopped sharing daily COVID-19 data on a public dashboard, as per DeSantis' orders.
Smith said in the lawsuit that Floridians, and more specifically families of school-age children, required up-to-date virus spread information to better understand how the disease was spreading and how it might affect the start of classes.
Although neither party admitted fault in the settlement, The Orlando Sentinel reports The Florida Department of Health will provide $152,250 to cover Smith's the legal fees and be required to publish comprehensive COVID-19 data on their website for the next 36 months.
That data reportedly will include weekly figures for cases and deaths by county, age group, gender and race.
"After a 2-year battle, the DeSantis administration has agreed to settle my public records lawsuit against them for illegally hiding COVID health data while the Delta variant ripped thru Florida killing 23,000 people," posted Smith on X, formerly known as Twitter. "We persisted. We prevailed. We held them accountable."
The governor's office referred requests for comments to the Department of Health.
Press Secretary James A. Williams tells Jeffrey Schweers of the Orlando Sentinel that it was agreed upon that this was a mutual win by both petitioners and that the court did not mandate the department to show the data, emphasizing that it had always been accessible.
The most recent report from the Florida Department of Health on Sept. 28 indicates that 91,178 residents of Florida died because of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.