Q&A – Did South Florida officials ignore the federal reopening guidelines? 

Q&A of the Day – Did South Florida officials ignore the federal reopening guidelines? 

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: The Sun Sentinel has a story suggesting Palm Beach County wasn’t compliant with federal guidelines when they decided to reopen. Also, the story suggested Broward and Dade had met the guidelines yet they waited longer than Palm Beach County to reopen. Do you agree with the analysis?

Bottom Line: The crux of the Sun Sentinel story/analysis is that two of the three guidelines requiring 14-day reductions in new diagnosed cases and positive test results were ignored in Palm Beach County prior to the decision to reopen. Something notable about the way they presented the information was based on when the county commission voted to reopen – May 5th, rather than on the reopening date, which was the 11th. If you track the two-week trend leading up to reopening, you’d be measuring back to April 27th. From April 27th through May 10th Palm Beach County averaged 80 new cases per day. If you compare that to the average of the prior seven days, 85 average daily cases, we did experience about a 6% decline in cases. Regarding the positive test rate...

Palm Beach County’s test rate peaked at just over 12% in late March. By April 18th, the county dropped below the target rate of 10%. On April 25th PBC hit a low of 6.4% and it stood at 6.5% at the time of reopening. The trend had unquestionably improved and it’s really splitting hairs to suggest an increase of .1% broke the decreasing trend. The other huge omission in the Sentinel’s analysis is the increase in testing. In the two weeks prior to reopening, Palm Beach County averaged 92,000 tests. In the week leading up to reopening,119,000 tests were conducted. That’s a net decrease in new cases while having increased testing by 29%. 

According to my tracking of data/trendlines using the methodology state officials have been using to time reopening's, Palm Beach County met the opening guidelines on March 6th, one day after the county commission vote but before reopening began on the 11th. Broward and Miami-Dade became compliant on May 7th- 12 twelve days prior to reopening. The bottom line is this... The Sun Sentinel is correct that Palm Beach County wasn’t complaint with federal guidelines the day the vote to reopen took place, however the county was by the time it actually reopened. Broward and Miami Dade were actually slow to begin reopening given that they were only a day behind PBC’s trendline. Context is always key when analyzing data. The Sentinel’s story seemed to be one of narrative rather than providing helpful information.

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