Q&A – How Much Of Florida’s COVID-19 Summer Surge Came From Visitors?

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Today’s entry: One thing as a statistician, how are they weeding out positive Floridians, versus people visiting that tested positive here? I personally know 4 out state people, that tested positive here in Florida? And as you were just talking about our great second quarter….seems to coincide with the increased cases. Perhaps our much-needed tourists, are bringing us special COVID?

Bottom Line: You raise a good point about Florida’s summer surge in cases potentially being fueled by those visiting our state. The answer to your last question is yes, if someone is visiting Florida and tests positive for COVID-19, they are counted in Florida’s totals. Visitors are very much part of Florida’s summer surge story though possibly more for the potential spread of the virus to Floridians than for their positive diagnosis having been registered here. In real-time, we’re only able to estimate the impact.

When the Florida Department of Health ended the daily COVID-19 reports, moving to weekly reporting instead, they also dropped the breakout of out-of-state cases diagnosed in Florida from those of Floridians. Using data available through June 3rd we at least have an idea of the overall impact. By that date, 1.9% of Florida’s total diagnosed COVID-19 cases were visitors to the state. In real-time, that would equate to about 62,000 of Florida’s 3.3 million cases. That doesn’t tell the entire story of course. The bigger impact is how many other people they’re spreading it to while visiting. 

According to Yale Medicine, in research accepted by the World Health Organization, every infected person with a Delta variant of COVID-19 infects an average of 3.5 to 4 people. That’s higher than the 2.5 people infected for the original strain on average. It’s here we see the full impact of visitors contracting and spreading COVID-19 in Florida. Through May, with the original strain of COVID-19, visitors would have been responsible for about 109,000 of Florida’s cases. Since June, with the Delta variants, an additional 65,500 to 75,000 cases would be the direct result of visitors to Florida. This creates a fairly complete picture of the impact of visitors to Florida during the pandemic. 

Since the onset of the pandemic through Wednesday, somewhere between 174,500 to 184,000 diagnosed COVID-19 cases in Florida are directly attributable to non-Floridians visiting the state. That’s 5.2% to 5.6% of Florida’s total cases. So yes, Florida is the country’s top destination during the pandemic and it has disproportionately contributed to not only our summer surge in cases but the entire scope of the pandemic in our state. 

Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods. 

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com

Parler & Twitter: @brianmuddradio 

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