New data from Florida’s Emergency Managers show an obvious downward trend in both new coronavirus infections and daily hospitalizations, far below the dire numbers of serious cases projected by most models, including the widely-cited projections from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IMHE).
Since Friday, the state has conducted an increasing number of tests, but is finding fewer and fewer cases of the virus with each passing day:
More than 28,000 tests conducted over the past three days yielded just 3,069 coronavirus cases, for a positive test rate of holding steady at just over 10 percent. And that number hasn’t changed much over the last several weeks, either. If the virus was infecting people at an exponential rate, we could expect to see the positive test rate growing steadily.
Another critical metric, the number of people discharged from hospitals, is not available, but Florida emergency managers are tracking available hospital beds. Those are still abundant because daily new hospital admissions and total admissions are far below the projections made by national models like IHME. Of note, we are using the total number of hospitalizations (not accounting for hospital discharges) for COVID-19, which would obviously mean our numbers look worse than current hospitalizations, so the actual situation is going to be even better than the data charted below:
The trends, if they continue, undercut criticisms of Governor Ron DeSantis, who resisted Democrat calls for a stricter statewide lockdown and allowed local leaders to make their own decisions in the early weeks of the crisis. The strategy attempted to mitigate additional economic damage that would come with a one-size-fits-all lockdown. Despite weeks of dire predictions and comparisons to New York City, Florida appears to be forging its own path, and it appears to be working.
The trouble, of course, is that social distancing appears to be driving the infection rate down, but now that it appears we won’t hit critical mass, people will tend to get bored and restless, which will inevitably lead to pressure to lift the social distancing measures and reopen businesses. That, in turn, could lead to new infections and more outbreaks, prolonging the ordeal.