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Monday, 22 June 2020 22:38

Models Confirm Florida in COVID-19 Resurgence, Warn of ‘Catastrophic Consequences’

Written by John Haughey, The Center Square
An employee wearing a protective face covering, right, monitors the flow of customers June 17 at an Apple retail store along Lincoln Road Mall in Miami Beach, FL. An employee wearing a protective face covering, right, monitors the flow of customers June 17 at an Apple retail store along Lincoln Road Mall in Miami Beach, FL. Lynne Sladky/AP

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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 June 18 that 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 June 17.

 

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 June 16 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.


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