Florida Experiment – Update

About a month ago I wrote how Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ decision to remove all remaining state ordered coronavirus control measures represented an unusual “Natural Experiment” to occur regarding the effectives of government intervention in how to deal with the pandemic. At the time I promised future updates on the experiment in Florida. This is my first update.

It has been a little over a month since the experiment began. Cases did not rise as quickly as I had expected. Figure 1 shows the daily cases from Florida from worldometer.com. The week of the Governor’s announcement there were an average of 2266 cases. It was not until mid October that you could discern a trend of rising cases. By October 15th the 7 day moving average was 2711.

Figure 1: Daily Cases in Florida – worldometer.com

Death rates due to COVID-19 are still trending lower while hospitalizations have just begun to hint at a slight increase.

I have been gathering the daily map of Florida county map from covidactnow.com to see if there are any trends there. The maps use a color scale to label the level of risk. Use the left and right arrows below to move between 9/29/2020 and 10/29/2020.

There is no overall “reddening” of Florida. For a few days the panhandle appears to grow more red, but then it fades back to Orange. The only really clear trend that I could see is that the number of counties marked in yellow “Slow disease growth” clearly declines while the number of counties “At risk of outbreak” in Orange does appear to increase.

Conclusion:

As of the end of October, the experiment shows a slow but clear up tick in cases. Hospitalizations may have just begun to rise, while deaths are still declining. Given the national context where cases are climbing rapidly, some states are finding their hospital system at or near capacity and deaths are now again 1000/day, the Florida results are far more positive than what is happening in the rest of the country.

Stay tuned for further updates.

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