# Q&A of the Day – Are coronavirus deaths exaggerated?

Q&A of the Day – Are coronavirus deaths exaggerated?

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

Today’s entry: I thought of something I’d like to hear you discuss. Looking at the total coronavirus deaths in Florida, the number seems pretty small for a state as large as ours. If most people who’ve died already had health issues, some of them probably would have died of something other than the virus. It's probably not possible to know what that number would be but maybe you can think of a way to figure it out.

Bottom Line: It’s a good observation you’re making. And while I can’t pinpoint the exact number of people who’d have died of something other than the virus – there is an answer to your question. Without a doubt Florida’s performed far better than most states in managing the coronavirus crisis. We’re second nationally in total testing while being 8th in cases and 10th in deaths despite being the third most populous state. That’s the most prominent explanation as to why, in a state of 22 million people we’ve lost fewer than 1,800 to COVID-19 thus far. To put this in perspective, you’re greater than 17 times more likely to die from the virus in New York than Florida...and Florida’s the bigger state. As for the crux of your question – there's a medically accepted way to measure events like the coronavirus pandemic.

The term excess deaths applies to deadly events like pandemics and is generally the most effective way to know what the true impact is on society. The “excess deaths” metric uses a five-year average of death rates and adjusts for population changes. Using that method, deaths are up by about 3% in Florida this year. What’s helpful about this method is that it accounts for those who may have died from the virus but didn’t know it. So, the answer to your question is that 97% of everyone who has died in Florida in 2020, would have statistically died, pandemic or no pandemic. If we held the 3% increase for the entire year, approximately 6,100 more Floridians would die than in the average year. By comparison, New York City’s excess death rate is greater than 300% above normal. One more reason it’s better to be here than there.

What’s helpful about using the excess death method is that it doesn’t matter who was diagnosed and who wasn’t. When we learned that the virus was active in Florida compared to when it was first here. It adjusts for all of it. The method also confirms how effective Florida has been at managing the pandemic. And how horribly New York has...