If there’s one thing we’ve learned about the Florida Department of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard, is that objects in the rearview mirror may appear closer than they are. That means, what’s reported daily is built to include the premise of it having just occurred over the past day but in reality, might have happened as many as 30 days ago. What’s more, ist that the single most important daily figure according to CDC Director Robert Redfield, is the positivity rate for tests. This happens to be a figure reported daily but to which no one actually knows what it is. These are real issues that have broadly been ignored by many in local news media.
Recently FAU’s School of Business, led by Dr. Rebel Cole, created a real daily tracker using the data reported by the state but corrected for when new cases and deaths actually occurred as opposed to when they were reported. The differences were and are huge. The first takeaway is that newly diagnosed cases may have occurred up to 30 days prior to the date reported. Another takeaway is that deaths may not be reported for up to eight weeks and the average daily reported info occurred two to three weeks ago.
That’s big and the implications are many when public policy decisions are being considered in realtime. A few examples of how the real adjusted data differs from what the state has reported include the highest actual day for deaths being 112. Top reported by the Florida Department of Health, 173. Furthermore, the top day for positive test results, 19,466 (July 11th). Top reported by the Florida Department of Health, 15,300 (July 12th).
What we’ve learned based on the hard work of the FAU School of Business team is that the daily reported information can’t be taken at face value, for something that’s supposed to be instructive for understanding what’s happening currently with the virus. This is especially problematic when local officials are using this data daily to determine what they’ll allow to open and when. Let alone decisions regarding schools.