Q&A of the Day – Has Florida underreported COVID-19 deaths? Part 1
Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods.
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Today’s entry: Is there anything to the report that Florida deliberately underreported thousands of COVID deaths or is this another DeSantis hit by the news media?
Bottom Line: Possibly both. Let’s get to it. Today’s note came on back of recent research published in the American Journal of Public Health. In a story first reported by Yahoo News, the key statement from the findings which calls into question the number of attributed COVID deaths, was this: (The number) is significantly greater than the official COVID-19 data suggest. What specifically did they find which calls into question Florida’s reporting? Here’s the breakdown direct from the study:
Objectives. To determine the number of excess deaths (i.e., those exceeding historical trends after accounting for COVID-19 deaths) occurring in Florida during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Methods. Using seasonal autoregressive integrated moving average time-series modeling and historical mortality trends in Florida, we forecasted monthly deaths from January to September of 2020 in the absence of the pandemic. We compared estimated deaths with monthly recorded total deaths (i.e., all deaths regardless of cause) during the COVID-19 pandemic and deaths only from COVID-19 to measure excess deaths in Florida.
Results. Our results suggest that Florida experienced 19 241 (15.5%) excess deaths above historical trends from March to September 2020, including 14 317 COVID-19 deaths and an additional 4924 all-cause, excluding COVID-19, deaths in that period.
Conclusions. Total deaths are significantly higher than historical trends in Florida even when accounting for COVID-19–related deaths. The impact of COVID-19 on mortality is significantly greater than the official COVID-19 data suggest.
That’s pretty straight forward. If true Florida has underreported deaths by about 15%. In real time, that’d mean Florida has underreported deaths by approximately 5,171 in total. The question becomes whether the methodology adds up. In my opinion, the answer is yes. But it’s not necessarily what it’s being spun to look like. I’ll explain in the second part of today’s Q&A.
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