Florida officials withhold COVID data for nearly 4 months

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State officials withheld COVID data for nearly 4 months, leaving many Floridians in the dark about how many people they knewor suspectedhad died from COVID in the Delta wave.

Between June 4 and Sept. 17, when the Florida Department of Health finally released the data to the public, officials withheld the figures, claiming it would put the department atrisk of litigation.

Some experts have long suspected that the death toll was much higher than state claims. An initial report from the CDC found that 6,700 people had died in Florida alone, though the state later revised that estimate to just over 2,500.

A recent investigation by the Associated Press found that there were in fact more than 3,500 deaths, excluding Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Florida DOH now says the death toll is 3,522.

Experts have long said that the final number could be as high as 7,000. The Florida DOH said it will now release COVID data on a weekly basis, and update its Florida COVID website every other day. The agency said it will also host a callevery other week to discuss the data.