Q&A – Florida's coronavirus reporting & how long it takes to recover

Q&A of the Day – Why isn’t Florida reporting coronavirus recoveries& how long does it take to recover? 

Each day I’ll feature a listener question that’s been submitted by one of these methods. 

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com

Twitter: @brianmuddradio

Facebook: Brian Mudd https://www.facebook.com/brian.mudd1

Today’s entry: Brian, I keep hearing the number of confirmed cases go up and up, but after 45-60 days of testing shouldn't there be a lot of cases coming off now? I know your first response will be that it does take a while to clear, but I know someone who had this and it didn't take 2 months to clear, it was 20 days.They also said they had a really difficult time getting approved to get clearance testing because the priority is still to focus resources on potential new cases. Seeing as it does require two tests within 24 hours, that makes sense! So, it appears to me many of these cases on the board are no longer active but no one is putting any effort into either updating those numbers or at least telling people those numbers may not reflect active cases.

Bottom Line: There's without a doubt merit in what you're saying. There's lag time in reporting recoveries generally. In fact, that's been part of the irony of the reporting process. We tend to think of updates being real-time info when in reality it's an average of what happened days ago based on testing turn around times - though that’s improving as faster tests make it into the system. The bigger issue in Florida is something you mentioned. The priority hasn’t been to keep tabs on recoveries. It’s the reason I haven’t discussed death rates in our state. We really don’t know what it looks like. This is the current guidance from the Florida Department of Health: 

The state is developing new efforts daily as we respond to COVID-19 to keep Floridians and visitors safe and informed about the status of the virus. Currently, there are multiple ways for recovered cases to be recorded and several methods are used by different countries and states. Some states and countries measure a case as recovered when a person has had COVID-19 for more than 14 days, while others upon hospital discharge data - neither of which completely capture recovery of the full COVID positive population. The Florida Department of Health will continue to provide information on hospitalizations and deaths to keep the public informed about the threat of the virus.

While using a lot of words to say we shouldn’t expect them to report recovery information anytime soon, they point out several of the discrepancies in the reporting of recovery info generally. This is why while the current closed case death rate is at 20% world-wide (and even higher in the United States), it’ll almost certainly come down significantly overtime. The problem in the here and now is having to work with the certified information made available to us. Another important point you raised is regarding the length of time one’s sick with the virus.Based on CDC and WHO data of studied cases here’s the typical timeline: 

  • Incubation period – 5 days
  • Worst symptoms during days 7-10
  • Average recovery time - 31 days

So yeah, it does take a long time for most people to recover (no one is known to have recovered in under two weeks) and when you add in delayed reporting and a lack of prioritization to test for recoveries – here we are. It remains the case that there’s still more about the virus we don’t know than what we do. That’s why it’s challenging to know what the right policy answers are, let alone the preferred treatment options. The real wild card remains mutation. A recent Chinese study suggested there are 30 different strains of COVID-19 currently in existence. If true, it could help explain the variances in outcomes and symptoms. More to come...

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