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Florida House Speaker questions COVID-19 death toll

Published: Oct. 14, 2020 at 4:51 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - 15,595 Floridians have died of COVID-19, according to the latest numbers from the Florida Department of Health.

But a new analysis of COVID-19 death certificates conducted by the Florida House of Representatives suggests the count may be inflated.

The outgoing House Speaker asked fellow legislators to consider the report when making policy decisions.

The analysis by the Florida House suggested the state’s COVID-19 death toll may be inflated by as much as 10%.

It looked at death certificates and found nearly 60% had errors or were recorded out of line with state and national guidance.

Based on the latest statistics, a 10% inflation would mean the Department of Health overcounted by about 1,400 deaths.

Republican Representative Randy Fine, who has recovered from a battle with COVID-19, says a 10% discrepancy is actually reassuring.

“The Speaker’s work sort of demonstrates that the numbers are largely right. I mean if it was 1,200 instead of 12,000 you might go, ‘Oh wow.' But you know, being off by 10%, it’s still a huge effect and it’s still something we have to take seriously,” said Rep. Fine.

Democratic Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith criticized the House Speaker for focusing House resources on nitpicking death certificates and not on what he considers more pressing issues.

“Fixing our broken unemployment system, expanding Medicaid to people who have lost their job and have no health insurance, small business relief to family-owned operations that have closed their doors forever. The Florida Legislature has done zero,” said Rep. Smith.

The legislature has not convened since the pandemic began in March.

They won’t return to the Capitol until their organizational session two weeks after the election.

We reached out to House Speaker Jose Oliva to ask about the House analysis but did not receive a response.

Copyright 2020 WCTV. All rights reserved.

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