While several other media outlets published dire stories on Saturday about the death toll, a “frightening curve,” and a “rapid rise in cases,” the underlying data looks much better than those headlines suggest. Part of the reason for those dire headlines might be that they aren’t slicing the data from FDOH the same way we do – so to make sure we’re comparing apples to apples, our data is pulled from the evening reports published by Florida’s Department of Emergency Management. You can check our math yourself. We do NOT use this FDOH dashboard, because it uses a mish-mash of data that mixes Florida residents on some modules and all known cases in others.
Our data does not distinguish between residents and non-residents. If FDOH reports a positive COVID-19 test, we don’t care what state issued that person’s driver’s license.
Now let’s get to the good news:
Despite another massive surge in testing – 36,700 people tested in 72 hours – state health officials reported fewer than 11% of those as positive. Even better, there’s been no significant uptick in new cases in the past three days, and only a slight bump over the past five days. In short, we’re not currently experiencing exponential growth in new cases:
Note the red line over the last three days – it’s gone flat – on Thursday, 1,235 new cases, on Friday, just 1,260, and Saturday, only 1,277 new cases. Again, the key here is that those new cases don’t appear to be growing exponentially. Linear growth we can deal with. Exponential growth will create serious problems for our health care system.
But enough about new cases. We’ve been saying for a couple weeks now that the important number isn’t new cases at all, but about hospitalizations and deaths. And again, some good news to report: while total hospitalizations (red line, below) and deaths continue to rise, those numbers aren’t rising exponentially, either. In fact, daily hospitalizations (blue bars, below) and daily deaths (black bars) are both trending down over the same three day period:
Of course, we’ve seen this pattern before a couple of weeks back (see March 21st-23rd), then the number of cases and hospitalizations started rising again, so anything is possible. It’s critical that we continue to remain vigilant over the next few weeks so that we can defeat this virus. Minimizing the infection rate is the key. And just because things might be taking a turn for the better in Florida if this trend holds, doesn’t mean the rest of the country is experiencing the same thing.
Still, facts are facts: and no amount of alarmist reporting can change the fact that the past three days in Florida have been comparatively good. The simple truth is that we’re haven’t seen any significant exponential growth over that period, which is critical if we are to “flatten the curve.” Even if this is not the beginning of a longer downward trend, it’s still great news because it means we’re slowing the growth, even if only a few days at a time.
Keep up the good work, Florida! We can beat this thing.