ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County health officials no longer have access to a critical statewide database that gives local decision-makers information including on COVID-19 vaccine distribution rates.
The move to revoke Orange County’s access to the Florida Department of Health database came after the county turned over three heat maps as part of a public records request.
The maps show vaccine distribution rates by zip code and do not disclose any exempt or personal information. WFTV was the first to report the state pulling access to the database.
News 6 has been asking for similar public records from the Florida Department of Health since January. However, no records have been provided from the state. Officials at DOH have also ignored News 6′s requests for a status update on when reporters can expect the records.
Under Florida’s Sunshine Law, officials are expected to provide public records in a reasonable amount of time. Records can be kept from the public if the information is considered exempt under state law.
News 6 reached out to state and county health officials to find out what information might be considered exempt in the heat maps that were provided, but have not received a response.
“The County is not pursuing any legal action,” said Orange County Public Information Officer Kelly Finkelstein, when asked if officials were considering pushing back on their revoked access to the database.
The maps are several weeks old and show lower-income neighborhoods including Pine Hills (32808 and 32804) have had fewer vaccine distributed than historically higher-income communities such as Winter Park (32789 and 32792).
News 6 reached out to Mayor Jerry Demings for a comment about the discrepancies in vaccine distributions. A public information officer said reporters would have to wait until the 4:30 p.m. press conference Thursday for a response.
This is a developing story and will be updated throughout the day as we learn more. Follow News 6′s Merris Badcock on Twitter for up-to-the-minute information.
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