How did Florida end up with one of the best COVID-19 case and death rates in the US despite Gov Ron DeSantis refusing to implement mask or vaccine mandates?
- During the peak of the recent COVID-19 surge in Florida, the state was recording 101 cases per 100,000 people and 1.77 new deaths per 100,000
- Since mid-September, Florida has been seeing declines and is recording nine cases per 100,000 people and less than 0.2 deaths per 100,000
- The declines are despite Governor Ron DeSantis insisting the state would not shut down and refusing to implement mask or vaccine mandates and instead focusing efforts on early treatment
- Experts have suggested the declines seem to follow a familiar two-month cycle since the pandemic began with cases and deaths increasing for about two months before dropping
- This has also been seen in other states that experienced surges over the summer such as Alabama, Louisiana and Texas
Just two months ago, Florida was experiencing the worst COVID-19 surge in the United States.
The Sunshine State had the highest seven-day average of cases per day as well as the highest hospitalization rate in the country.
Despite these grim metrics, Governor Ron DeSantis did not issue new lockdowns, closures or stay-at-home orders, arguing that the spike was due to a seasonal pattern of the virus and urging residents to get vaccinated.
Now, with Halloween and Thanksgiving right around the corner, the Covid crisis looks really different in Florida.
Inexplicably, cases and deaths have been going down despite DeSantis implementing no new mitigation measures.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show Florida is recording one of the best case and death rates in the country.
This is similar to what’s been seen nationwide as Covid-related infections and fatalities in the U.S. drop to the lowest levels recorded since April 2021.
Additionally, the state is doing just as well as California, despite the West Coast State taking a very strict approach including implementing mask mandates, limiting gatherings and closings bars and indoor dining at restaurants.
Experts say Covid waves usually occur in a two-month cycle – with infections rising for two months before declining – and instead of trying to prevent the cycle from occurring, DeSantis just let it ride out.
The declining rates could change as Floridians head inside for the winter months, potentially causing cases to rise again, but, as of now, it seems like Florida’s downward trends will only continue.
FLORIDA CASES: During the peak of the recent COVID-19 surge in Florida, the state was recording 101 cases per 100,000, which has since declined to nine new cases per 100,000
FLORIDA DEATHS: Florida was recording 1.77 new deaths per 100,000 people during the peak of the surge, which has since fallen to fewer than 0.01 deaths per 100,000
In mid-August, the COVID-19 crisis perhaps looked no more dire than in Florida.
The state reached a record-high 26,000 Covid cases reported in one day or about 101 cases per 100,000 people.
This is 44 percent higher than the previous peak of 18,000 cases per day recorded in January 2021, according to CDC data.
During this time, there were 17,200 COVID-19 hospitalizations – three-fold higher than the 5,700 seen just one month earlier.
Additionally, Florida reported a record-high 227 deaths per day in mid-August or 1.77 per 100,000.
However, Governor DeSantis defended himself against critics and told Fox News in an interview on August 26 that the state was having ‘great success’ treating COVID-19 patients early with monoclonal antibodies.
He also slammed President Joe Biden for failing to end the pandemic.
‘You know, he said he was going to end Covid. He hasn’t done that,’ DeSantis told host Jesse Watters.
‘At the end of the day, he is trying to find a way to distract from the failures of his presidency.’
At the time, doctors and public health experts said that DeSantis’s laissez-faire approach was a gamble, but it appears to have paid off.
CDC data show Florida is recording 64 cases per 100,000 people in a week or nine cases per 100,000 people per day as of Wednesday.
This means the The Sunshine State has the best case rate in the country behind California, Mississippi, Hawaii and Alabama, respectively.
Currently, California recording 28 cases per 100,000 people in a week or three cases per 100,000 people per day.
The declines are despite Governor Ron DeSantis insisting the state would not shut down and refusing to implement mask or vaccine mandates and instead focusing efforts on early treatment. Pictured: DeSantis speaks at a press conference at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida, August 2021
Experts have suggested the declines seem to follow a familiar two-month cycle since the pandemic began with cases and deaths increasing for about two months before dropping, which as been seen in other states that experienced surges over the summer such as Alabama, Louisiana and Texas
The same curve can be seen with Covid deaths.
Florida is recording 0.2 deaths per 100,000 people in a week – making it the second best state in the nation.
It is behind only California and New Mexico, which are recording 0.1 death per 100,000 people in a week.
Both of these metrics are despite DeSantis refusing to allow business and schools from implementing mask and vaccine mandates.
This is similar to what has been seen in the U.S. with the recent Delta variant-fueled surge.
On September 1, America was averaging 49.9 cases per 100,000. As of Wednesday, this has dropped to 21.2 cases per 100,000.
Despite taking very different approaches to the pandemic, Florida and California are recording nearly the same amount of average cases and deaths per day
So does the governor deserve all the credit for Florida’s improvement? Not necessarily.
These declines seem to follow a familiar two-month cycle since the pandemic began in early 2020 with cases and deaths increasing for about two months before declining, according to David Leonhardt of The New York Times.
Early explanations – such as the virus being seasonal like the flu or compliance of mask wearing and social distancing increasing and decreasing – have not held up.
However, more logical explanations include that as people have contracted COVID-19 over the last two months, the virus is (slowly) running out of people to infect.
‘Since the pandemic began, Covid has often followed a regular – if mysterious – cycle. In one country after another, the number of new cases has often surged for roughly two months before starting to fall,’ Leonhardt wrote.
‘The Delta variant, despite its intense contagiousness, has followed this pattern.’
This means a variant may only need eight weeks to spread throughout a community before it begins to recede.
The two-month cycle theory has also been seen in the U.S. during every surge including the summer 2020 wave and the winter 2020-21 wave
During the summer 2020 surge in the U.S., cases began rising in early July before declining again in early September.
What’s more, during the winter 2020-21 surge, Covid infections steeply increased in late November 2020 only to fall again in late January 2021.
It seems that what has occurred on a nationwide scale is what occurred on a much smaller scale in Florida.
The recent surge saw cases starting to rise in the Sunshine State in early July and declining in mid-September, following the two month-schedule.
And it’s not the only state: Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina and Texas, all of which saw cases surge during the recent fourth wave, have seen declines since early September.
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