Florida’s social distancing measures are having an impact. For the past week, the number of new coronavirus infections has shown no signs of significant growth in the state. Even with wild fluctuations in the number of daily test results reported from state and private labs, the daily number of infected Floridians appears to be holding steady, averaging just 1,131 new cases per day over the past eight days. In that same span, Florida’s Department of Health (FDOH) reported 87,588 test results, an average of 10,944 per day. Those tests yielded a positive infection rate of 10.3 percent over the period.
The result is easy to see. There is an obvious flattening of the curve of infections (source: FloridaDisaster.com daily reports):
But take all the above with a grain of salt. As we’ve reported previously, the number of new infections doesn’t provide the best picture of what is actually happening across the state. A better metric is the number of daily hospitalizations, because it’s not subject to fluctuations related to testing, and because cases requiring medical care are the cases that actually matter.
The hospital data, while not as rosy as the new infections graph, also demonstrates that Florida’s COVID-19 cases are not growing at an exponential rate. For the past three days, the number of new admissions have shot upward from a 10-day low of just 85 admissions on Sunday night, to a record high of 216 new admissions as of Thursday evening. But even those numbers, charted daily, have not doubled in more than nine days, when the previous doubling rate was once every five days. While the total number of cases has doubled in last seven days, that, too, represents a noticeable slowdown:
Overall, this is good news and it shows that social distancing and stay-at-home orders are having the desired effect. Unfortunately, we still aren’t seeing a decline in cases, and even when we do, it is highly unlikely that we’ll be able to return to anything resembling “normal” life in the short term. We’ll need to drive the daily new cases close to zero before we can even start that conversation.
What that recovery will look like is the subject of a feature story we are working on and will post when ready. Until then, hang in there and keep up the good work. We can beat this thing back.