Fired Florida Data Scientist Who Built COVID-19 Dashboard Has Home Raided by Law Enforcement

Officers raided the home of Rebekah Jones, the fired data scientist in Florida who built her own dashboard to show the spread of coronavirus.

Ron DeSantis

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Ron DeSantis

The data scientist who built her own COVID-19 data tracking dashboard after being dismissed by the state of Florida had her home raided by agents yesterday.

Rebekah Jones posted video of officers of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement entering her home with their guns drawn. She claims they took her computer and phone as evidence while executing their search warrant on behalf of the state's Department of Health.

Jones was fired earlier this year by the state and she achieved notieriety when she claimed it was for a refusal to manipulate coronavirus data to make a case for statewide reopening. In an email to Florida Today, the former Geographic Information Systems manager for the Florida Department of Health said that she largely built the state's public-facing coronavirus data dashboard on her own. 

"I worked on it alone, sixteen hours a day for two months, most of which I was never paid for, and now that this has happened I'll probably never get paid for," she said at the time. 

Jones' claim seems to be backed up by accolades from Esri, the software used to build the state's dashboard. They singled her out for her work on the project in a blog post from before her dismissal. It's further helped by the fact that Jones did build her own coronavirus dashboard after being dismissed, one that can still be accessed. Since her firing, state officials up to Governor Ron De Santis have used Jones' criminal record as a way to discredit her and minimized her role in the state's coronavirus dashboard project. 

The raid came after a complaint was filed by the Department of Health. They alleged that the computers and phone were used to access the DOH messaging system.

"FDLE began an investigation November 10, 2020, after receiving a complaint from the Department of Health (DOH) regarding unauthorized access to a Department of Health messaging system which is part of an emergency alert system, to be used for emergencies only," FDLE spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger told the Tallahassee Democrat.

Plessinger added that the video was an incomplete view of the situation.

"Ms. Jones refused to come to the door for 20 minutes and hung up on agents. After several attempts and verbal notifications that law enforcement officers were there to serve a legal search warrant, Ms. Jones eventually came to the door and allowed agents to enter," Plessinger said. "Ms. Jones' family was upstairs when agents made entry into the home."

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