Q&A of the Day – Beyond the virus... How many people die in Florida daily?
Each day I’ll feature a listener question that’s been submitted by one of these methods.
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Today’s entry: Brian, pardon me for missing this if it’s something you’ve covered. Seemingly lost in the daily rundown of corona deaths are how many people die daily in Florida. I remember the recent CDC report which pointed out most people with coronavirus who died would have died from something else anyway. Is there a way to determine how many people have died normally in Florida and what the change has been during the pandemic?
Bottom Line: I’ve covered about every angle around this topic but not the specific way you’ve asked it. As it turns out it’s instructive as well – so let’s dig in. Independent of COVID, Florida averages 567 deaths daily using data from the Florida Department of Health. According to the CDC, any death reporting information isn’t complete or especially accurate for up to eight weeks. For that reason, I’ll breakdown Florida’s deaths through the week ended July 25th. On July 25th Florida had 5,778 COVID-19 attributed deaths and 133,757 total deaths for the year for an average of 646 deaths daily. By the time one adjusts for the increase in population an average of 75 more Floridians have died daily in 2020 than in the typical year. Those are your likely COVID related deaths.
The breakdown also jibes with the CDC’s Excess Death data which I’ve covered extensively during the pandemic. Given that almost all deaths are for those who are older and at-risk, what will be instructive to watch once we’re passed the pandemic is if Florida’s death rate declines for a while, as many who would have died from other factors later on will have already succumbed to the virus. This analysis paints another picture in which the coronavirus should be viewed pragmatically. At current rates, nearly 27,000 more Floridians will die than in the typical year in our state. At the same time in a state of nearly 22 million people – we're talking about 0.001% of the population which will have died. Meanwhile, the pandemic response by local governments has negatively impacted every Floridian.
Perspective is key. As my frustration with local arbitrary decisions has intensified and I’ve articulated these concerns – I’ve heard from many who want to suggest the pandemic isn’t that significant of an event. It clearly is. At the same time, we’re still mired in a policy response in South Florida which more closely resembles the other extreme than pragmatism. We’ve consistently had studies since May which have shown the use of masks, social distancing and good hygiene are the most effective ways to combat the pandemic. In South Florida we’ve not had public policy which reflects the science and data I just referenced. We’ve consistently been more restrained by officials. It’s my hope that pragmatism wins sooner than later in all respects. We should always error on the side of limited government intervention in our daily lives with personal responsibility for the decisions we make (which in this case would mean fines for not wearing masks, etc). That’s the pragmatic approach. I’m hoping it will win out sooner than later.