Florida coronavirus reality check

Florida coronavirus reality check

Bottom Line: You’ve likely heard that the United States along with the rest of the world recently had the highest daily totals for new diagnosed COVID-19 to date. This has led to renewed restrictions throughout much of Europe and officials closer to home, at least rhetorically, considering the same. By now we’re all fatigued with the daily drum beat of numbers and deaths reported ad nauseam and often without context. With the recent rise in cases it’s a good time to for that missing context – especially here in Florida.

Last Friday, the 23rd, was the peak day for cases around the world with just under a half million for the day. It also happened to be the peak day in the US with just over 81,000 reported cases. It wasn’t close the highest day for cases in Florida however and that’s an important conversation to drill down on but first, let’s tie up loose ends with a few important takeaways with what’s happening across the country and around the world.

While last Friday produced new highs for daily diagnosed cases outside of Florida, we haven’t come close to a new record for deaths. The peak day for worldwide deaths came April 17th, and most recently the daily reported deaths are half of what they were back then with a small fraction of the total number of known cases. Likewise, in the US the peak day for deaths was April 21st, with over 2,700 in a day. Compare that to around 400 most recently. It’s evident the virus isn’t having near the impact on the average person who contracts it today, compared to the earliest weeks during the pandemic. Maybe the virus has mutated into a less severe version. Maybe it’s the available treatment options we now have. Maybe it’s a combination of the two. What’s clear is that the death rate of those who contract COVID-19 is a fraction of what it was six months ago. Now for a closer look at Florida.

Florida’s top day for reported coronavirus cases was July 12th, when over 15,000 cases were reported that day. The recent high came last Thursday when 5,500 cases were reported. Thankfully subsequent days have resulted in fewer diagnosed cases in our state the daily average is around 3,300 over the past week – or about a fifth of our peak. While Florida has seen a rise in cases recently, it’s been small, especially compared to the rest of the country and the world. Also, encouraging for Florida, are overall attributed deaths. The peak day occurred August 11th when 276 deaths were reported. Most recently the daily average has been 67 which is the lowest daily average since July 10th - when Florida was averaging more than three times the daily cases. It’s clear the virus isn’t leading to anywhere near the same levels of deaths in our state either.

It’s at this point I’ll remind you the most common form of the flu today is the H1N1 virus. That's the same virus which caused the 1918 pandemic. It’s a very real possibility COVID-19 will be here to stay for the foreseeable. The key is to minimize its impact on those who contract it. Even without a vaccine that’s yet available, it’s possible that we’re seeing COVID-19 becoming a version of the seasonal flu. The recent upticks are consistent with the onset of the traditional flu season. Meanwhile the CDC’s flu map shows that the US is experiencing only “minimal” flu cases with only three Florida counties having documented flu outbreaks. Coincidence? To be continued...