This story has been updated with stats from Tuesday, which were not available at press time yesterday. The story also includes new chart, one updated chart, and a link to Florida’s hospital capacity dashboard.
A handful of leading statistical indicators show that Florida’s July COVID-19 “surge” may be contained and could soon start to decline. While new cases have remained above 10,000 for each of the past five days, that’s actually a decline versus last week when we had days above 12,000 and a peak of 15,000 cases on July 12th, more than eight days ago. Because the peak occurred more than a week ago, Monday’s report dropped it off the 7-day moving average for cases, moving Florida’s new case curve sharply downward. Tuesday’s cases were also down, with just 9,440 new infections, but it didn’t move the average down because last Tuesday’s report was about the same:
A look at the actual case numbers shows a similar story:
In order for the trendline to actually increase this week, Florida will need to average more than 11,500 new cases per day, otherwise, the trendline will decline overall versus last week. Other indicators, such as positive test rate, and the number of ER visits by patients with flu-like and COVID-like symptoms, also peaked in early July and are now starting to decline:
Assuming the new case trends hold, hospitalizations and deaths will likely continue to climb this week, then flatten out and decline in the weeks ahead. That’s because serious symptoms tend to lag testing by 5-10 days.
Meanwhile, the state’s number of unoccupied hospital beds continues to increase, despite the steady influx of COVID-19 patients. Last week we were at 12,100 beds. This week, the state has 13,168 beds available (down from 13,800 yesterday). Keep in mind that available beds are not a direct reflection of coronavirus cases, as beds can become occupied for any reason, including injuries or illnesses unrelated to the disease.
Here’s the link to monitor the bed capacity situation: Florida Hospital Capacity Dashboard.
Despite the headlines declaring that Florida is running out of ICU capacity, the state still has more than 1,000 ICU beds available, out of 6,149 total. That’s 1-in-6, or 16% of available capacity as of 9 a.m. Tuesday morning. And while a number of individual hospitals have reached ICU capacity, not a single county in Florida with ICU beds has filled them all.
It’s worth repeating that those numbers are likely to get worse over the next week because the serious symptoms from last week’s surge in cases will take some time to manifest. And even though cases overall might decline this week, the disease is also starting to shift – slightly – to the older, more vulnerable population, which is also likely to contribute to more serious cases, despite the overall decline in spread.
Bottom line, wear a mask. Take precautions. But don’t live in fear, as it appears that, once again, Florida is getting the latest surge under control.