The Florida Department of Health is sitting on data involving rare pediatric clusters in South Florida. One is in Miami-Dade County. One is in the region of Lake Okeechobee. That's according to analyses of available data by a team led by University of West Florida professor Raid Amin and five independent confirmations of that work by the American Statistical Association.
Purposely, the Florida Department of Health -- under directions of Gov. Rick Scott's administration -- has refused to release the exact locations of families with children suffering from rare cancers.
Why is government so quick to release detailed maps of Zika clusters, but not rare pediatric cancer victims? In Rick Scott's silence there is an answer. No one argues against killing disease-causing mosquitos. If the state "finds" rare pediatric cancer clusters, it has to address the question: "why, here?"
In a summer when billions of dollars of coastal real estate, when the personal health of hundreds of thousands of residents has been put at risk by water management policies embraced by the state that dump trillions of gallons of toxics in the environment, it is no wonder that rare pediatric cancer clusters is swept under the rug.
If you are a mother or father of a child who is suffering or who suffered from cancer, you are desperate to know why. If you are a politician who could and should have done more -- except it runs against your ideologies -- you are desperate to hide the facts.
We should deeply care about rare pediatric cancer clusters. Fox 4 News in Fort Myers recently ran a series of reports on this issue. Here is why we should care: children's undeveloped immune systems are bellwethers for toxics. When children get critically ill, in statistically significant numbers, we should all care.
Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Department of Health could easily put this controversy to rest.
Under a confidentiality agreement, share with the American Statistical Association the state's complete data set including street and block location. The data is sitting in a spreadsheet at the Sylvester Cancer Center in downtown Miami.
But Gov. Rick Scott doesn't want anything in the way of cost-cutting agendas involving public health regulation and the environment. As a former entrepreneur in health care, Scott understands how statistical analyses are used by either plaintiffs or defendants in costly, big-dollar tort litigation. With Zika mosquitos, politicians have an insect that can't fight back. With rare pediatric cancers, politicians are scared of what the evidence could turn up.
That's why the newspapers and TV reports are filled with maps showing where Zika has spread but not rare pediatric cancer clusters in Florida. It is a black mark on, especially, Gov. Rick Scott and the GOP majority in the Florida legislature.
Cancer is blind, and so -- apparently -- are voters.