With COVID-19 cases still trending downward, here’s what to look for today at 11am

by | Jul 28, 2020

11AM UPDATE: The stats are in and it’s about what we expected. A slight dip in new cases, and slight increases in hospitalizations and deaths. We were up against last Tuesday’s numbers of 9,440 new cases, 517 hospitalizations and 134 deaths. We replaced those numbers on the 7-day moving average with 9,230 new cases, 585 hospitalizations and 186 deaths. All in all, not great, but not out of line with expectations, and there is no sign that this virus is surging. As we explain below, even though new cases are starting to decline, hospitalizations and deaths will lag by about one week and two weeks, respectively.

Your media forecast for today: heavy emphasis on “record deaths” and “record hospitalizations.”

But just remember, those numbers are only big because they include data from some jurisdictions who don’t report deaths over the weekend, and humans apparently really like to go to the hospital on Monday’s and Fridays (those days have the largest increases on average) so Monday’s report (which came out at 11am this morning), is ALWAYS a bit heavy on deaths and hospitalizations compared to the rest of the week.

Here’s our pre-Tuesday data analysis and predictions, which is still worth a read:

Florida had another (relatively) good day yesterday, adding fewer than 8,900 cases, and with the usual weekend “lull” in hospitalizations and deaths, all charts are pointed in the right direction. With Tuesday’s report due today at 11am (with Monday’s data), we’re likely to see increases in at least one of those categories. But while some media outlets focus on the relative movement of the day’s stats versus the previous day, we look at the 7-day average, which eliminates single-day spikes and valleys to provide an overall trend.

A 7-day moving average means that last Tuesday’s report will finally be dropped from the average and replaced with today’s report, giving us more realistic benchmarks for new cases, hospitalizations and deaths. That means for today, we want to see numbers that are lower than last Tuesday’s 9,440 new cases, 517 hospitalizations, and 134 deaths. Given the trends we’re seeing, it’s possible we might beat all three numbers, but don’t be surprised if we get a weekend spike from some counties finally reporting their full weekend hospitalization and death data. Here’s the current charts, which includes yesterday’s (not today’s) report:

New Cases Trendline

This one shows a clear downward trend over the last 10 days, which is good news in the longer term:

Trendline for Hospitalizations and Deaths

This chart shows hospitalizations may be starting to peak, just a little bit late, about 10 days after new cases peaked. It usually takes about 7 days, so the extra three-day lag might be attributed to the virus spreading to older Floridians, which are starting to show more serious symptoms.

Deaths also appear to be tapering off, but it’s still too early to tell, especially when the last two days were weekends which are typically lower – even with a moving 7-day average. Today at 11am we’ll have a much clearer picture of where things are headed. It is quite likely that we’ll see a slight uptick today before it settles a bit over the remainder of the week:

Positive Cases Trendline

It’s not all good news, but neither is it bad. The case positivity rate stopped going up on July 9th, and started to decrease, but since July 16th, it’s just meandering, neither up nor down. Ideally we want to see this number start to decline, sharply:

One possible theory for the ongoing high test rate, despite declining new cases, is that people might be getting better at self-diagnosing themselves for COVID-19 before going in to be tested. If they can write off a sniffle or sneeze to allergies, they won’t rush in to be tested for COVID-19. Alternatively, the summer months might bring fewer colds and flu symptoms overall, meaning those that do exhibit such symptoms are much more likely to have COVID-19 than those with the same symptoms during flu season.

Either way, the positive test rate is worth keeping an eye on, but it’s not the end-all-be-all indicator for where the virus is headed.

Another piece of positive news: the state’s hospital emergency department surveillance data, which tracks emergency room visits by people exhibiting COVID-like symptoms. That trendline is decidedly down:


So that sets the stage for this morning’s report coming out in about one hour. We’ll update this story once the new data is live.


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