As Thanksgiving weekend approaches, Florida is home to an increase in coronavirus cases (across all age groups), hospitalizations and deaths.
One thing to remember: Around the holidays, data on the virus can get “weird,” as the COVID Tracking Project puts it. This means that the number of cases or deaths can quickly decrease, even if it does not reflect changes in real life.
Florida’s daily updates reflect data confirmed the previous day. So, especially when it comes to deaths, the numbers for Sunday and Monday are much lower than those for other days of the week. And that goes for the days immediately after the holidays: Reported deaths plummeted on Tuesdays after Memorial Day and Labor Day.
In addition to the oddities that might crop up in the reports, the numbers may soon look different for another reason: Experts warn millions of Americans visiting families for the holidays would override the viral wave. This would lead to even more epidemics across the country and kill many people who would not have died otherwise.
With that in mind, it’s worth taking stock of general trends in the state before the holiday begins.
The dead are rising again
From mid-October to early November, the number of new people reported dead from COVID-19 dropped rapidly. Florida has gone from reporting about 100 deaths a day to less than half. (This uses seven-day averages to account for the weekly reporting pattern.) At its lowest point, 42 deaths per day were reported around the first week of November.
But since then, the figures are rising immediately. As of this week, 75 Floridians are reported dead per day, the highest number in a month. It is now at the same level as in mid-July, just before the summer peak.
Adjusted for population, the increase in the number of deaths in Florida is lower than that of the United States as a whole. The Great Plains and Midwest states are seeing fatalities piling up the fastest right now.
Cases continue to increase rapidly – in all age groups.
As of this week, Florida has about 8,000 new cases per day. This number has increased, essentially without fail, since the beginning of October.
During the pandemic, spikes in cases among young adults foreshadowed those among the elderly. Today, cases are on the rise, regardless of age.
At its summer peak, there were almost 12,000 cases per day, meaning the number of cases in Florida is about two-thirds of the highest it has ever been. However, the state is testing more people now than it was in July, so even if the numbers reach or exceed that earlier high, that doesn’t mean the virus is as prevalent in real life this time around. .
Cases have also increased in long-term care facilities like nursing homes. The number of currently reported positive residents at these establishments hit a low of less than 750 in late October, but has nearly doubled in three weeks. Over the past week, it has remained stable, at around 1,400 current cases. More than 7,000 of the 18,000 deaths from COVID-19 in Florida are nursing home residents.
Hospitalizations are also increasing
One of the best indicators of whether the pandemic is improving or worsening is the number of people currently hospitalized for COVID-19. That number peaked in late July, just between the peak of cases and the peak of reported deaths.
Statewide, it has increased since mid-October, from around 2,000 to over 3,500 today. The level returned to its level at the end of August. This is still well below the peak, when more than 9,000 patients were hospitalized at the same time in July.
The problem is worse in two neighboring rural counties: DeSoto and Highlands. This week, around 80 patients have been hospitalized with COVID-19 in those counties, more than at any time since the state began releasing data in July.
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