Q&A – Can Florida’s Spike In COVID19 Cases Lead To More Hospitalizations?

Today’s entry: Do the new positive cases we are seeing progress the same way the disease did earlier? Are the hospitalization and mortality rates similar? Are asymptomatic cases the same rate as before? Are symptomatic cases as serious as earlier? Thank you for keeping track and informing us as you have been doing.

Bottom Line: Florida’s had a rough week, our worst week for new coronavirus cases yet. New daily cases have more than doubled since reopening began and new hot spots have cropped up across South Florida. But what about this spike in new cases? I have answers to most of your questions. The biggest change in new cases in June has been the people contracting COVID-19. They’re generally a lot younger. Through the first week of June, the average age of a Floridian diagnosed with the coronavirus was 54. So many younger people have been diagnosed recently that the average age since testing began has dropped to 46. This factors heavily into the rest of the questions. 

Florida’s peak in hospitalizations averaged more than 170 daily April 20th. Hospitalization rates bounced around through May but generally trended lower. Florida reached a low of 97 average daily hospitalizations on June 6th. It’s been nearly straight up since then along with the spike in new cases. Florida’s currently averaging 146 new hospitalizations daily. Below peak levels, though 50% higher than the low reached June 6th. The good news is there’s still a lot of capacity in the system if needed, which is why officials haven’t hit the panic button despite the rapid increase in cases. The reason why hospitalization levels are below peak levels despite having the highest case count takes us back to demographics. 

As we’re aware, age and preexisting conditions are the biggest factors in determining the severity of symptoms for most people. With younger Floridians contracting the virus, the rate of hospitalizations compared to the number of new cases is dropping. In terms of the severity independent of hospitalizations, Florida averaged a low of 29 deaths daily on May 25th. Most recently we’ve averaged 35. It’s similar to the hospitalization rates, higher than the lows but not as bad as the peak despite more total cases. As for asymptomatic data, we’ve never had hard data. Estimates in Florida during testing have ranged from 10% to 50% but I’m not comfortable enough with any of the data to draw any conclusions. Going forward, watching the hospitalization rate is probably the best way to gauge the severity of the impact of the virus in Florida. 

Submit your questions using one of these methods. 

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com

Twitter: @brianmuddradio

Facebook: Brian Mudd https://www.facebook.com/brian.mudd1

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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