STATEWIDE — The former data manager for the Florida Department of Health, Rebekah Jones, now is managing her own COVID-19 site to track pandemic numbers.

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Jones has teamed up with nonprofit FinMango and other partners to create a national database called “The COVID Monitor,” which includes tracking of school districts nationwide. More than 13,000 school districts are monitored, and orgainzers are working to track even more.

“The reason I got started on it is was because teachers were reaching out to me personally and telling me about cases in schools,” Jones said.

She also is a parent so she knows how important that information is.  

“If I am in the dark, I cannot help him,” Jones said. “I cannot protect him. I can’t protect our family. Every parent should feel like that. They should feel like it’s their right to know what’s going on.”

The information for the site is collected through government data, news articles, and through reports from parents and teachers.

“I now have people who are sending me directly the letter they just got emailed and can see the timestamp on the email two minutes before sending it to me,” Jones said.

She reaches out to school districts and looks into the cases, Jones said. People also can also submit information on the COVID Monitor website.

While Jones continues to manage the COVID Monitor, her complaint against the health department following her departure is being investigated. She said she was fired back in May after a conversation with her boss about filing a whistleblower complaint regarding the state’s COVID-19 data.

“They were not representing the data truthfully, and that is a criminal offense in Florida,” Jones said. “I had that conversation with my boss that Friday and it was at the end of the day, and Monday I was fired, and it’s hard to believe that had nothing to do with it.”