Despite recent weeks of a rapid rise of COVID-19 numbers in Florida and news media outlets’ furious race to dramatize the situation, when compared to the state of New York, Floridians are actually faring much better with the virus. However, because of lack of objective news reporting, you would never know otherwise.
Since the beginning of July, cable and nightly news have been admonishing Florida’s coronavirus outbreak numbers when a dramatic jump in positive cases emerged. On July 12, Florida reported the highest number of new cases in one day of more than 15,000, outpacing a previous record high of 12,274 new cases recorded in New York on April 4. No doubt these numbers sound scary, driving the media’s goal of keeping the general public in a state of perpetual fear of COVID-19. For a better idea of county hospitalization rates of COVID-19 in Florida, an online dashboard is now available for public view. However, Florida hospitals’ biggest concern is not the number of beds but rather maintaining overworked health care staff.
Granted, precautions of frequent hand washing, social distancing and wearing a mask in public are still necessary to reduce risk of contracting or transmitting the virus to others. But just how bad are Florida’s numbers?
Crunching COVID-19 numbers fatality rate
Putting pen to paper to crunch the numbers tells a different story when we look at the fatality rate. Let’s start with New York. As of July 19, the number of people who’ve tested positive for coronavirus was 408,181 out of a total of 5,230,981 people who’ve been tested in the entire state. The total population of the state of New York is 19.45 million. The number of New York citizens who’ve died from the virus since the outbreak began is 25,048.
Now, let’s crunch the numbers for Florida, with a population of 21.48 million: The Florida Department of Health, as of July 19, has reported 369,6834 positive cases of COVID-19. Florida’s Department of Health also shows that 2,729,916 people have tested negative for the virus. When adding the number of positive cases with the number of negative cases since the beginning of the pandemic, the total of Floridians tested is 3,099,750. Florida’s current fatality rate of COVID-19 is 5,206.
Since surviving coronavirus is of utmost concern, let’s compare the death rate between the state of New York and Florida, using the numbers previously mentioned. When you divide the total number of New Yorkers who’ve died by the total state population, the death rate from COVID-19 in New York State is .13%. When we do the same for Florida, it’s .024%. How do these numbers compare to the total death rate thus far in the U.S.? As of July 19, John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center shows a total of 140,255 people have died in the U.S. from the virus out of a population of 330 million representing a death rate of .043%. That means currently, New York has a death rate six times greater than Florida’s death rate and roughly three times greater than the overall COVID-19 death rate in the U.S. Take note: Florida’s death rate is lower than both New York’s and the whole U.S., making Florida’s numbers not looking quite so bad after all.
Why Florida’s surge is different
We know Florida’s numbers are escalating. Whether the blame is on reopening too fast and too soon, remember the original goal was to flatten the curve of coronavirus cases to avoid overwhelming hospitals and not to flatten the economy. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis made the decision to rejuvenate the economy in Florida by a more relaxed reopening than other states. DeSantis could have held back on his jumpstart, but weeks of quarantining in the “sunshine” state, hasn’t been easy.
This current rapid rise in Florida’s numbers is among adults younger than fifty who tend to have less severe symptoms. Compare this to the colder months of March and April, when New York’s numbers were high with people spending more time indoors.
Consider too that during New York’s viral surge, very little was known on best treatment for coronavirus. There was little time to prepare as cases exploded. Desperate for ventilators and PPE, New York struggled to keep fatality rates down. Today, ventilator use is only as a last resort. Doctors are relying instead on aggressively treating less severe cases with hydroxychloroquine along with adjunctive therapy of vitamins C, D and zinc supplementation to prevent hospitalizations. For more severe cases, Remdesivir, Dexamethasone, and Convalescent Plasma are proving to be effective in preventing mechanical ventilation and death. Demographically, the number of deaths by age concurs: New York City’s death rate was dominated by people over the age of 65; the same is also shown for Florida.
We are getting better at understanding and treating this coronavirus, despite what we hear on the news. When we put things in perspective by crunching the numbers, numbers don’t lie.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.