We have a friend who lives in London and has checked in on us to make sure we are OK. Why? Because we live in Florida and the international media, taking their cue from the national media, continues to report that Florida is boiling over with Covid cases and the state is overwhelmed. It’s one big triage.
A South Korean acquaintance of one of our children found out that we live in Florida and immediately had the same worries. Are you OK? They too had heard Florida is overwhelmed. Sigh.
Calm down, world. The media is, again, deceiving you. Florida is actually doing just fine, if you look at every single metric beyond new cases — which of course are necessary in a pandemic.
Let’s start with some data at Worldometer, compiled from the CDC and WHO.
The chart above shows Florida ranks 24th in deaths per million among U.S. states at 273 per million residents, well under the U.S. average of 453 per million. The death rate in Florida is extraordinarily low. Note that this chart is tiny and hard to read because Florida is so far down the list of deaths.
That seems kind of relevant, doesn’t it? Good luck finding it in any “news” story. We need to start putting quotes around “news” because it is much more akin to Democrat operative spin than anything resembling news. Our friends in London don’t know this critical context because the reckless, partisan media in Florida and nationally only scream headlines on case count.
This chart above demonstrates clearly that Florida hospitals are nowhere near being overwhelmed by Covid patients. This is a far more relevant metric than case count.
Hospitalizations and medical facilities are not being overrun. Not even close. Hospital bed usage is very low and ICU bed usage is low. In fact, even taking the worst case projections at this point, usage remains well below capacity for hospital beds, and only at the very worst does it move beyond ICU capacity — which I identified in the chart — without hospitals making adjustments for surge capacity, which they would.
Even in the case rate, the only real scare tactic that can be used, Florida ranks 5th in the U.S., behind Louisiana, New York, Arizona and New Jersey. Anyone around the world terrified for friends in those states? The problem is that this metric is heavily dependent on testing. Florida is testing more than 100,000 daily now (it’s never clear if those are actual people or tests administered, but either way it’s a lot) and many states that had heavy Covid loads early missed untold thousands because testing was limited two to three months ago.
So the comparison is weak, yet still there are four other states worse than Florida.
Next we get to the totally screwed up death totals.
The chart above, compiled by Issues & Insights shows the totally wonked system of reporting deaths, as they come in late and in odd bunches, painting a ridiculously inaccurate picture of what is happening in Florida. There is definitely an increase in deaths in the state, but nothing like the spike being reported.
Part of the reason for this is that there was no system in place when Covid hit and so it fell to government agencies to quickly and efficiently create a system to help the medical profession in reporting deaths. Well come on, that was doomed to fail before it started. The reporting may be improving, but slowly.
Timely reporting of deaths must improve if they are going to be released daily. If they were released weekly even, it would be a much more accurate picture. But the media would howl about cover-ups and whatever other nonsense they conjured.
And finally, the much ballyhooed Rt factor is now below 1 in Florida, meaning the virus spread is on the decline, at least at the moment. The Rt factor is watched closely by geeks because it purports to be able to measure how quickly the virus is spread. According to the World Economic Forum, “The R number is a key factor in gauging the coronavirus pandemic. It refers to the ‘effective reproduction number’ of COVID-19. An R value of 1 is a crucial threshold.”
Being below 1 means the spread is under control. Again, at the moment, but remember, this is supposedly the moment when everything is going crazy in Florida.
And an interesting event happened yesterday. Another jurisdiction mandated face masks, this time the Republican-dominated Manatee County Commission, in Florida. During her presentation pushing for the mask mandate, Dr. Jennifer Bencie, director of the Florida Department of Health in Manatee County, told commissioners that the local medical community estimates as much as 48 percent of Manatee County residents may be asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic and spreading the coronavirus. That is an astounding assertion.
Bencie falls into the category of expert we are instructed to listen to. Since the experts say herd immunity is achieved at around 70 percent, although it varies from disease to disease depending on contagiousness and may be a little higher for Covid, then actually this is very good news. It would mean we are more than two-thirds of the way toward herd immunity already in Manatee County, which is by far not the hardest hit place in Florida. If true, this could explain both the “wave” of new cases (mostly just identifying what already is, or was) and the promising Rt factor.
Look, Covid is very dangerous for a very small part of our population. That is true with many diseases. The great thing is that we know exactly who is at risk and can protect them. Treatments are improving rapidly. For the vast, vast majority, it is another disease that is part of life. About half of people, apparently, don’t even show symptoms. Some feel sick, a few very sick. And a tiny, tiny percentage die.
But all of the data relayed here paints a picture of Florida that is wildly different than the media is feeding to the rest of America and the world. So to all of our friends around the world, Florida is doing fine, thank you.
Rod Thomson is an author, former journalist, past Salem radio host, ABC TV commentator and is Founder of The Revolutionary Act. Like Rod on Facebook.
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