The new meltdown over Governor Ron DeSantis’s management of COVID-19 in Florida could be the most ridiculous one to date. The corporate media is upset that Florida will now count deaths on the date they occur rather than the date they get reported. Some journalists do not understand that the curve will be normalized, but the area under the curve will remain the same.
Georgia’s COVID-19 dashboard allows users to select whether they want to view deaths according to the date they happened or when the state received the report. When you look at the graph by day reported, you can see gaps on weekends, and it is evident there are days when the state receives a data dump:
When you view the same data by date of death, the curve is normalized. There is a lag as the Department of Health enters a report received today on the correct date. But every death on the report date page is eventually placed on the day someone passed away.
The corporate media is mad because, on the day Florida receives a data dump, they can no longer point it out and screech about how horrible DeSantis is. The lag in reporting creates a curve that reflects the reality of what is happening in the state. It will not prevent any data from being recorded, but it will stop the daily vapors over what is occurring in the state.
Florida has also moved from a dashboard with daily totals to a weekly report for COVID-19 data. This change is the first step in treating COVID-19 as other respiratory diseases get monitored, such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and the flu. To respond to all patients requiring care, health departments need to know what is going on across various illnesses.
The current situation is a good example. While the southeast experiences a spike in COVID-19 cases, there is also an off-season surge of RSV. The CDC warned healthcare providers about this possibility in late June. Lockdowns and isolation in 2020 reduced the circulation of the virus:
Due to reduced circulation of RSV during the winter months of 2020–2021, older infants and toddlers might now be at increased risk of severe RSV-associated illness since they have likely not had typical levels of exposure to RSV during the past 15 months.
CDC surveillance confirms a spike in RSV in the South, which includes Florida. Percent positive in the region was 26% last week and 17.4% in Florida:
Hospital systems in the South need to be on alert for this virus and COVID-19, particularly in children. No data from Israel or the UK indicate the Delta variant is any more dangerous to children than previous versions of COVID-19. RSV causes approximately 57,000 hospitalizations of children under five annually and causes between 100 and 500 deaths.
As a study in California found, this distinction matters. As of August 7, 1299 children under four have been hospitalized with and possibly for COVID-19 during the pandemic. Hospitalizations of children for COVID-19 decreased 40% when researchers reviewed the clinical information. Appropriate diagnosis in a world only concerned with COVID-19 is critical. States like Florida that begin to integrate the management of COVID-19 with other illnesses position their health systems to respond appropriately.
Hopefully, Florida’s next move will be even bolder. With weekly reporting and using the date of death to report mortality, perhaps the state can distinguish between dying with COVID-19 and a death caused by COVID-19. A detailed review in two California counties found this decreased the number of deaths by approximately 25%. The CDC makes a similar distinction evaluating deaths following COVID-19 vaccination. This is the footnote on the agency’s current report:
1,883 (25%) of 7,608 hospitalizations reported as asymptomatic or not related to COVID-19.
341 (21%) of 1,587 fatal cases reported as asymptomatic or not related to COVID-19.
If Florida moves in this direction, we may see heads explode on live television. The wailing will be glorious. But if Florida and other states want to exit Covidstan, it is precisely the move they need to make.