Florida’s 1 million cases in context
Bottom Line: If you’re familiar with my work you know I love numbers. But I don’t love numbers for the sake of numbers. I love facts and the use of relevant statistics as evidence is important in making many important deductions. We all know numbers can be used as a form of manipulation and that’s commonly achieved by providing statistics without context. Out the many frustrations I have with most news reporting, this is the second most frustrating to me (with omission of information being first). On Tuesday, as the Florida Department Health reported 8,847 new daily COVID-19 cases, the number most news outlets were most interested in reporting was one million. On one hand, Tuesday’s daily case count was about average for the recent daily diagnosed cases. Especially notable given the added concern by health officials of Thanksgiving week related transmission. On the other hand, one million. But what does it mean? Here’s some context for those numbers.
- 21.7 million – Florida's current population
- 4.6% - the percentage of the population which has been diagnosed with COVID-19
- 7% - the average percentage of Florida’s population which contracts the seasonal flu annually
So, let’s stop and think about this for a moment. We have a virus which is 2.5 times more contagious than the traditional flu, which has been around in Florida for at least ten months and 34% fewer people have contracted it than will usually contract the seasonal flu. Now, is that more useful to you than hearing about a million? What’s more, as I’ve recently discussed, is that Florida’s total number of cases is in line with our state’s population relative to the rest of the country. And currently, unlike most of the country, which is experiencing new highs for cases, we’re consistently seeing cases about 40% below our highs reached over the summer. By any objective measure Florida has been no worse than average in performance with COVID cases during the pandemic, while allowing more liberty – including business activity which has resulted in our economy performing above average this year and well ahead of “expert” expectations. But one million cases, right? That’s what’s really important here.
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