Is Florida the epicenter for Covid19 in the USA? Back in June, this was the prediction many people were making. So, were those predictions correct?
Where Did It All Go Wrong?
At the beginning of the Covid19 outbreak, Florida succeeded in flattening the curve. The state was generally considered to be handling the coronavirus well. Then the economy started to open up and the situation quickly changed.
The easing of restrictions created an opportunity for existing community infection to spread. Unexpectedly case numbers started to surge. The situation was looking grim and Florida was expected to be the next New York. That prediction came true to a certain extent, but not in the apocalyptic way many anticipated.
Florida has indeed surpassed New York for both the total number of cases (currently 608,722) and the total number of deaths (10,872). There is good news though. New cases in Florida are on a downward trend and are well down on the record peak of 13,965 recorded on July 15th. However, it is worth noting that the daily number of tests being performed is also on a downward trend. Fewer tests will always return lower total numbers.
Despite the high case numbers in Florida, it is not the worst performing state. The unwanted 1st place currently belongs to California. According to Statista.com, total confirmed cases in California are currently 682,243. That is a difference of over 73,000 when compared to Florida. Not only is the total number of infections higher, so is the daily increase in infections and the number of recorded deaths. All the figures point to California as the current epicenter for Covid19 in the USA.
Has Florida avoided epicenter status by design or pure chance?
California is far more aggressive at imposing restrictions on its population than Florida. While California has mandated the wearing of facemasks with few exemptions, Florida has only encouraged their use. There are currently active stay-at-home orders in place in California. Many Californian businesses are still unable to open or can only conduct their business outside. Group gatherings are still not permitted.
On the other hand, Florida has allowed the majority of businesses to open and operate at 50% capacity. Gathering in groups is also permitted but numbers cannot exceed 50 people.
One explanation for the disparity may lie in PPE. Florida PPE supplies have remained adequate throughout the current outbreak. The Federal government significantly boosted Florida PPE supplies in March despite the State’s low infection rate. Having sufficient PPE supplies as the crisis escalated has helped Florida to protect 1st line workers. Conversely, California was hit hard early on in the pandemic and has been struggling to maintain PPE supplies ever since.
Hospitals in both states are operating near capacity but are not overwhelmed in the same way as New York was at the beginning of the outbreak. A better understanding of how to treat Covid19 is resulting in improved patient outcomes. Virologists also believe Covid19 has mutated to be more infectious but less deadly. This is welcome news but containing a virulent virus is not easy. It is now more important than ever to follow health guidelines and minimize your risk of spreading or contracting the virus. By working together we can hopefully contain the virus and prevent a new epicenter emerging.
So, keep yourself safe, keep others safe, and do the right thing.
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