With more than 21.6 million residents, Florida is the third most populous state in the nation, but based on available data, coronavirus cases in the Sunshine State aren’t growing nearly as fast as the cases in other states, nor are they growing at a steady exponential rate. Last night, the Florida Department of Health posted the latest update: just 220 new cases, 24 fewer than the day before.
If Florida’s coronavirus cases are growing at a steady exponential rate, we should have reported at least 310 new cases yesterday. That didn’t happen. In fact, we’ve missed projected growth rates in each of the past five days since The Capitolist first projected a terrifying 15,000 expected cases in Florida by March 30th. Since then, the state has consistently fallen short of the expected exponential growth rate – with yesterday’s backward step one of the most welcome missed projections we’ve ever made.
Here’s a look at Florida’s cases plotted against the initial exponential growth projection made on March 18th. Despite yesterday’s big drop, if we are really seeing steady exponential growth, we should get at least 340 new cases tomorrow by 6pm:
There are currently six other states with more coronavirus cases than Florida, but only one of them, California, has a larger population. The rest, New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois and Washington, all have fewer residents. A seventh state, Louisiana, trails Florida by just 50 cases, despite having only a quarter of our population.
So what’s going on here? Are we doing something right? Or is Florida just lagging a bit behind before we, too, experience a massive explosion in cases?
Several potential factors might be contributing to Florida’s lower-than-expected number of coronavirus cases: a warmer climate, cities with significantly lower population density than New York City, or maybe Florida residents are just better at “social distancing” than other states.
While some have decried the numbers of available coronavirus tests, those concerns are easily dismissed by the fact that more than 90% of all tests being administered are coming back negative. We’ve tested 13,965 people so far. We’re still waiting on the results of 1,101 tests. But we’ve gotten the results back for 12,864 people, and 11,637 of those people tested negative for the virus. If the problem is related to a shortage of tests, then we’re wasting an awful lot of them on the wrong people.
We’ll get an early read on the situation when we get a new data dump this morning at 11am, and the full picture at 6pm. Stay tuned.