Models confirm Florida in COVID-19 resurgence, warn of ‘catastrophic consequences’

By John Haughey
The Center Square
June 19, 2020

Covid 19

(The Center Square) – Florida has ranked sixth in the nation for coronavirus spread for six weeks according to a model tracking COVID-19 transmission, and three other projection models forecast bad scenarios for the state by Oct. 1.

All four models agree Florida is in a resurgence and indicate, to varying degrees, COVID-19 cases will continue to increase statewide in coming weeks, with two models warning the worst is yet to come.

The Florida Department of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard reported Thursday 85,926 people have tested COVID-19 positive and 3,061 people have died from the disease.

The past week has seen record-setting days in the number of new cases, with newly diagnosed infections topping 1,000 daily in 15 of the past 16 days, including more than 2,700 new cases, and at least 25 new deaths, reported Wednesday.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has attributed some of the surge to increased testing statewide – more than 1.5 million have been tested – and said numbers are skewered by the timing of “data dumps,” when labs report “batched” test results.

The governor has also said increased rates of those testing positive are partially because the state is targeting testing in “high-risk environments,” such as nursing homes, prisons and jails, industrial worksites and migrant farmworker communities.

DeSantis affirmed Tuesday he will not recede from his June 5 launch of phase two in his three-part reopening plan.

“We’re not shutting down. We’re going to go forward,” DeSantis said.

The four models suggest voluntary compliance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and social distancing protocols is episodic, at best.

According to a transmission model built by open-source software developer GitHub, the virus is spreading at an “Rt COVID-19 value” of 1.06, meaning each Floridian with the virus infects on average six people.

An Rt value above 1.0 means the virus is spreading. Florida was below 1.0 Rt from April 29 through May 10 and was at 1.08 on May 28, according to GitHub.

At 1.06, Florida has ranked sixth nationally in spread for six weeks, GitHub calculates, and it is the same “reproduction number” cited by MIT graduate and independent data scientist Youyang Gu in his COVID-19 projections model.

Gu’s model uses machine learning to inform its predictions, which are incorporated into aggregates calculated by the CDC.

It puts the new case peak at 8,000 daily in mid-July, dropping to 4,800 by Oct. 1. It projects daily fatalities peaking at 58 in early August and dropping to 43 by Oct. 1, when 8,257 Floridians are estimated to have died from the disease.

Several weeks ago, Gu’s model offered the most dire prognostications, especially when compared with forecasts calculated by the oft-cited Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation‘s (IHME) model.

In early June, IHME predicted 3,899 COVID-19 deaths by Aug. 4, a downward revision from its previous estimate that 5,440 Floridians would die from the disease by early August.

The IHME model, which has been highlighted by White House officials, now projects the state could see 54,000 new daily COVID-19 infections and 438 daily deaths come October.

Meanwhile, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute and the University of Pennsylvania have issued a similar dire forecast for the Sunshine State.

Florida has “all the markings of the next large epicenter of coronavirus transmission” and risks being the “worst it has ever been,” according to Wednesday’s projections from institute and university researchers.

“The potential for the virus to take off [in Florida] is very, very nerve-racking and could have catastrophic consequences,” University of Alabama at Birmingham Division of Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo told CNN on Thursday.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Jack Maris
Jack Maris (@guest_57964)
3 years ago

Thank you for helping us to stay informed. I enjoy all the local news. I believe that there may be an error regarding the Rt COVID-19 value of 1.06. From my research this looks like it means that 1 person will infect 1.06 people not 6.

I’ve been charting in Excel new cases and deaths etc. for 32034, Nassau County, Florida, USA and world. Maybe you can explain something that I’ve noticed. New cases are increasing at a rapid rate currently but new deaths have remained fairly stable during this whole event. You can see this on by search Google for “covid-19 chart by state”

Ben Martin
Ben Martin(@ben-martin)
3 years ago

According to what I understand – As the number of new cases go up, the fatality rate goes down. The case number would go up when a person who is just curious tests positive. Reportedly the majority of people who have the virus will not have symptoms or will have very mild symptoms. Some people are wondering if a false narrative has taken hold of the collective mindset.

Joseph Kayne
Joseph Kayne(@jay-kayne)
3 years ago

This story needs to be updated. Officials in the DeSantis administration have contradicted the governor’s remarks. First, the state Department of Health reports the number of cases is going up faster than the number of tests; so it is not solely due to more testing. As for the discrepancy between cases and deaths, there are two issues. The increase in deaths per day on the left side of the chart does not match the daily number on the right side of the chart. Second, there is also a lag time between infection, symptoms, hospitalization and death. We need to look at the big picture in a week or two.

Second, the state Department of Agriculture pointed out the counties with the most significant jumps in cases do NOT have significant agriculture activity. Therefore, immigrant farm labor is not the factor “deSanitze the data” wants us to believe.