EXCLUSIVE | Delaware GOP demands transparency after last year’s COVID-19 data in schools was “destroyed”

The Delaware Republican Party is demanding transparency from the Carney administration when it comes to last year’s COVID-19 data in schools.

This comes after we brought you news last month that the Attorney General’s Office said last year’s data on COVID case counts in schools was destroyed.

The following response from the AG’s office came after a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requesting the data was denied, saying

“DHSS notes that DPH contracts with an outside vendor who operates the coronavirus website known as “My Healthy Community.” DHSS asserts it checked with the vendor and confirmed that the vendor has destroyed any previous reports which would have been responsive to your request.”

GOP Chairwoman Jane Brady called out Governor Carney directly, citing a lack of transparency on the part of his administration.

“I think that the Governor long ago should have removed the mask mandate for kids in school,” Chairwoman Brady explained. “I also think that the Governor should be transparent with the public. If they were making these decisions based on no information, then they need to admit that. They need to acknowledge that.”

It remains unclear whether the State failed to collect the information or if the information was collected and actually destroyed as the Attorney General’s Office has suggested.

The Governor’s Communication’s Director Jonathan Starkey said that was a mistake of wording on the part of the Attorney General’s Office. He then directed us to the Department of Health’s website which shows two graphs, one of which has no data from last year, and the other provides no specific numbers, just a reporting threshold of less than 11.

When we asked the Governor’s Office where the data was from last year….we were told that they did not start reporting the data until January of this year.

Text conversation with Governor Carney’s communications director, Jonathan Starkey

“We started reporting in school contagious cases in January. There’s no data you’re missing.”

Well if that’s truly the case, then where is exactly is the data for 2020? When we asked if it was not being reported prior to January of this year, Starkey told us “not in that way.”

Brady raised serious concerns over the handling of the data, or lack thereof, citing the convoluted response from the Governor’s Office and the fact that the Attorney General’s Office stated that the vendor “destroyed” the data that was requested in the initial FOIA request.

“I don’t know what happened, the Attorney General’s Office said the vendor said it was destroyed, the Governor’s Office says we never collected it,” said Chairwoman Brady. “It’s kind of like the CDC saying, ‘well, we’re not looking at how natural immunity, and people who have had COVID and have protection against contracting it again or if fairing,’ we aren’t looking at that issue, why not? It’s a political decision, not a medical one. We should be not imposing on our public decisions that are based on politics and not science.”

At least one state lawmaker has spoken out on this issue, State Rep. Rich Collins, who in an interview earlier this month called on the State to release what they have and acknowledge the lack of transparency surrounding the COVID-19 case count from last year in Delaware schools.

“In my view, the purpose of these state agencies should be to give us the most information they can so that we can make intelligent decisions for ourselves, rather than them spoon-feeding us exactly what they do or don’t want us to see and telling us what we have to do,” Rep. Collins said. “I’m in the process of writing a letter to Health & Human Services to request information on this and a number of other facts that we are not being told.”

As of this time there’s still no official word from the Governor as to why health officials were not reporting the data from last year.

“I just feel the Governor owes everyone an explanation on whether they have the information, what scientific data they used to evaluate whether kids needed to wear masks in school, and what they intend to do now,” Chairwoman Brady concluded. “Looking forward, we’re not looking at a pandemic anymore.”

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