Despite nationwide media attention on the massive surge in new COVID-19 cases in Florida, the number of hospitalizations and deaths in the state remain relatively flat, giving Governor Ron DeSantis confidence that the state’s more vulnerable populations are taking precautions. That, in turn, is allowing DeSantis to resist Democrats like Nikki Fried, who are constantly calling for him to issue job-killing statewide restrictions.
The state posted a record 8,942 new cases this morning, on top of a series of record setting days throughout the week. Unsurprisingly, that prompted Fried to seek out the nearest available cable TV camera and criticize DeSantis for not using a more heavy-handed approach to solve the problem.
But while his critics seem to have tunnel vision on the number of new positive tests posted each day, the surge in cases remains heavily concentrated among young adults under 30 years old, while older, more vulnerable Floridians account for fewer cases. In fact, the share of cases specifically among college-aged youth are actually growing higher each day:
Young adults between 20-24 years old comprise more than 15 percent of all Florida cases, with a slight growth in cases of older twenty-somethings. But because young adults are less susceptible to the virus, the new cases are producing fewer serious symptoms, and requiring fewer hospitalizations than cases that came during the first wave in March through May:
The chart above shows hospitalizations and deaths at the same scale as the growth in cases, illustrating why DeSantis has resisted Democrat calls to push the panic button and order statewide restrictions. The previous lockdown was ordered with the goal of preventing hospitals from being overwhelmed.
Instead of locking down, DeSantis says people just need to keep taking precautions to protect themselves, noting that COVID-19 is highly contagious and dangerous to many people.
“We’re going to continue to put out the messaging, we’re going to continue to put out the guidance, and we’re going to trust people to make good judgment,” DeSantis said.
Focusing more closely on the hospitalization numbers does show that the number of serious cases is growing, if only slightly, and nowhere near the state’s bed capacity. Today, the seven-day rolling average of new COVID-19 hospital admissions matched the daily record average set back in April of 172 cases:
As of Friday evening, Florida had 14,286 empty hospital beds, around 24% of the total number in the state, even after allowing elective surgeries to resume. So even though the average daily admissions for COVID-19 will climb higher in the days ahead, the state can easily flex up to handle more serious cases if needed, by restricting elective surgeries and discharging less serious patients early. So far, that remains unlikely in the near future.
Deaths are also well below the peak number set in early May, and are even down slightly from early June, at 37 deaths per day.