Project invites help, seeks data as it tries to gain understanding of COVID-19 deaths

The United States is undercounting COVID-19 deaths, especially among Native, Hispanic and Black Americans. A project of MuckRock and Columbia’s Brown Institute for Media Innovation, in collaboration with USA Today, will attempt to examine the true death toll from the pandemic. “There are sizable gaps in the data as local and state medical examiners and…

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Timely access to COVID-19 information serves the public interest, Wisconsin brief argues

Third-party business groups have no valid legal basis to prevent the disclosure of COVID-19 outbreaks, and timely access to such information serves the public interest, especially during a pandemic.  Those are key arguments in an amicus brief written by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and signed by 12 organizations, including the National…

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Letter urges N.Y. governor to make COVID-19 data more usable, become leader in transparency

The National Freedom of Information Coalition endorsed a letter penned by Reinvent Albany, urging New York Gov. Kathy Hochul to make COVID-19 data more usable by the public.  Reinvent Albany, an NFOIC member, thanked Hochul for publishing more COVID-19 open data, and it asked her to “please finish the job.” “The new COVID-19 webpage and…

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NFOIC, Knight FOI Fund support efforts to release COVID data, county credit card details

The National Freedom of Information Coalition in October 2021 awarded two grants from the Knight FOI Fund in support of litigation to release public records.  In Florida The Florida Center for Government Accountability, the NFOIC’s newest member, was awarded a $5,000 grant to support its lawsuit against the Florida Department of Health, which has stopped…

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Letter, signed by NFOIC, urges New York governor to publish COVID data

Ten open government groups, including the National Freedom of Information Coalition, signed a Sept. 7, 2021, letter urging New York Gov. Kathy Hochul to publish COVID-19 data. “Publishing COVID data in a tabular, downloadable, machine-readable format would help restore trust in state government and help researchers, journalists and the public to better understand the dire…

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No, those Fauci emails weren’t leaked; Yes, they were obtained using FOIA

After several media outlets published thousands of Dr. Anthony Fauci’s emails, some public figures claimed the emails had been “leaked.” The Washington Post and BuzzFeed News say they used the Freedom of Information Act to request and obtain the emails of the White House’s chief medical adviser. Niquelle M. Allen, the director of the District…

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New England coalition supports Massachusetts bills to keep remote access to public meetings

The New England First Amendment Coalition testified June 2, 2021, in support of Massachusetts legislation that would preserve the ability of people to attend public meetings either remotely or in-person. “The legislation will make permanent one of the few silver linings of the ongoing pandemic: remote access to public meetings and the increased engagement between…

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Texas legislators pass transparency bills, but open government work remains unfinished

Texas lawmakers approved two transparency measures to ensure greater access to public records after some governments closed off information during the COVID-19 pandemic.   “We are certainly glad lawmakers made these important improvements to Texas open government laws,” said Kelley Shannon, executive director of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas. “And a number of legislators…

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Florida clamps down on COVID-19 records, taking a ‘so sue me’ attitude, transparency advocates say

Records requesters seeking information about COVID-19 in Florida face long delays and large fees. “But perhaps more worrisome, we’re often hearing that some agencies will stonewall, fail to respond, and provide nothing, for months,” said Pam Marsh, president of the First Amendment Foundation of Florida. “It’s basically a ‘so sue me’ kind of attitude, daring…

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Reinvent Albany, NFOIC, others urge full transparency regarding COVID-19 in New York

Several organizations, including the National Freedom of Information Coalition and NFOIC member Reinvent Albany, in March wrote a letter urging New York leaders to provide full transparency about the COVID-19 emergency and the state’s response. “We are fully aware that the state’s response to the COVID-19 emergency has become controversial, and we are not calling…

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