Florida Declares COVID Victory Too Soon

Florida has made great progress in reducing the number of new COVID cases, but the decision to lift all COVID-19 restrictions on September 28th – is too much too soon.

Let’s start with the positive news. From the peak of cases in July (317,000 new COVID cases), Florida has done a great job reducing the spread of COVID. Cases more than halved in August, and have further reduced significantly in September to date. That’s awesome news.

Cases per capita

But lets see that in terms of cases per million – and the current rate is at about 111 new cases per million per day. A little lower than the US average – but still behind what has become an internationally acceptable level. Stated differently – just being in line with the US average isn’t good enough.

Deaths per Capita

Florida is doing less well here. Deaths lag cases – so we can see from the 1st chart that the peak deaths occured in August (lagging peak cases by 1 month from July). As of Sept 27 – 2,845 people died from COVID in the month.

Expressed per capita – this is an average of almost 5 people per million per day. That’s far too high to be comfortable.

National Comparisons

As I mentioned above, declaring victory when the state has reached the US average isn’t the right standard. The US is so divergent in the burden of COVID by state that average simply isn’t the right way to look at what a ‘good’ level of COVID looks like.

A better definition of ‘good’ is probably California at 85 cases per million per day, or NY at 43. Less than 100 is actually quite good, less than 50 is better.

A good news story in this data is Arizona. For a long time Arizona was one of the worst hit states in the country – and still has one of the highest levels of COVID deaths. But it has steadily improved. You can’t do that if you lift all restrictions at the same time. Arizona now has 65 new cases per million per day. About half the current level of Florida.

There is a pretty simple CAUSE and EFFECT loop that is playing out

We have seen time and time again that reopening too quickly leads to an upsurge in cases, and an upsurge in deaths. The Arizona example actually shows that too. The rapid reopening around Memorial Day is directly responsible for over 180,000 cases and 4,000 deaths. Even the current level in Arizona is only just about the same level as Memorial day.

My question for Arizona is, if they could have a do over – would they do it differently? Would they have reopened as quickly back in May? Hopefully not.

But that’s the question Floridian’s need to answer now. Every uptick in the US case curve is the direct result of reopenings. Even now we can start to see the effect post Labor Day – of the uptick in cases in September.

We’re not ready for the winter months, and the expected seasonal increase. Taking all controls off now isn’t good.

2 thoughts on “Florida Declares COVID Victory Too Soon

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