Q&A of the Day – How many Floridians have had COVID-19?
Each day I’ll feature a listener question that’s been submitted by one of these methods.
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Today’s entry: Awhile back you had a story regarding the number of people who’ve had COVID-19. As I recall it was a small number. With President Trump, senators and even Bobby Bowden contracting the virus, are we getting to the point where it’s reaching most people? Incidentally, I still don’t personally know anyone who has had the virus and agree with you that using positivity rates isn’t logical any longer.
Bottom Line: The story you’ve referenced was a Q&A from mid-August in which I was addressing a question as to if we were close to herd immunity with COVID-19. The answer was overwhelmingly no. On August 18th here’s how many Americans and Floridians specifically were known to have had COVID:
- US infection rate: 1.7%
- Florida infection rate: 2.7%
You might imagine that a month and a half later we’re still a long way from most people having contracted the virus and that’s the case. As of Tuesday, here are the updated infection rates:
- United States: 2.3%
- Florida infection rate: 3.3%
It’s interesting to note that the pacing is the same as it was back then, despite the resumption of classroom education and Phase 3 reopening in Florida most recently. You’re still more likely to have contracted the virus in Florida than elsewhere but it’s still highly unlikely you’ve come across it regardless of where you’ve been. In this context, with around 97% of Americans not (knowingly) having contracted COVID-19, it’s really not odd for you not to have known anyone who has battled the virus. When you take a step back and think about the past seven months, all we’ve done as a society, everything we’ve been through for only around 3% of the population to have been infected tells you that we’ve generally been effective at combating the spread of virus.
Many have suggested the reach has been greater than the diagnosed numbers suggest due to asymptomatic carriers, which is possible, however, comparing positive test rates and outcomes to the CDC’s excess death data has illustrated that only about 2% more people have likely had the virus than what we’ve had diagnosed. Even at the high end of the curve, maybe 5% of us have been exposed? When you consider 20% of Americans contract the flu annually and COVID-19 is more contagious than the flu we’ve objectively done well in Florida and across the country to date. High profile people like President Trump and Bobby Bowden contracting the virus is a reminder that the pandemic isn’t over and we should remain smart and safe as we go about living our lives. There’s also a takeaway from President Trump’s quick recovery as well. With rapid/readily available testing and treatment options – even someone showing two known risk factors (age & weight) - has the potential to bounce back quickly. For that reason, at a minimum, even if most people do one day contract the virus – buying time for these advances along with vaccines soon will have likely saved lives.