On May 20, Florida Governor Ron Desantis made the case in front of the media that Florida handled the COVID-19 pandemic better than what the media portrayed.
“You’ve got a lot of people in your profession who whacks poetically for weeks and weeks about how Florida was gonna be just like New York,” Desantis said. “Well hell, we’re eight weeks away from that and it hasn’t happened.”
Turns out, Governor Desantis was right.
Since the beginning of this pandemic, once it was clear that New York was becoming the epicenter of the coronavirus, media pundits quickly turned to Florida and told us “you’re next.” Boy were they wrong.
On April 1, the Washington Examiner wrote a piece titled “Florida could be the next New York in the coronavirus outbreak,” that said increased cases and deaths in Florida could turn it into the “next national hot spot.”
If we look at the hard numbers and see how close Florida really was to New York, it paints a different picture than what newspapers portray.
The governor can defend his comments on the media spewing a partisan narrative by looking at this data provided by the Florida Department of Health.
Florida has 2 million more people than New York does, but when you compare the population per 100,000, Florida has a 5.2 fatality rate compared to New York’s 117.5.
When it comes to hospitalizations between New York and Florida, our state is at a mere fraction of what New York is. Our hospitalization rate per 100,000 is 9.8, while New York is at 72.9. It is not only New York that Florida is doing better when it comes to hospitalizations, but compared to other states like Connecticut, Louisiana, Michigan and New Jersey, Florida also ranks at a much lower hospitalization rate.
On March 20, Florida Politics, a platform that covers politics and policy in Florida quoted a demographer saying that “Florida could be like an uber-Italy during the Coronavirus outbreak.” They cited our large elderly population and spring break celebrations.
According to them, Florida wasn’t going to be just like Italy, it was supposed to be way worse.
Well back to the graph we go. Looking at Italy’s hospitalizations per 100,000, Florida isn’t even close to Italy. Florida has a 9.8 hospitalization rate while Italy has a 32.6 hospitalization rate. Not even close.
What about fatalities? Comparing per 100,000, Florida had a 5.2 fatality rate while Italy had a rate of 45.8. Again, not even close. Florida never got close to being an “uber-Italy,” as the platform called it.
A Tampa Bay Times article also cited a model predicting that by April 24, Florida would have more than 465,000 people hospitalized because of the virus.
Reading this scared me because, had it come true, it would have been the biggest break in the healthcare system that Florida has ever seen.
As April passed, what ended up happening?
The graph provided by the Florida Department of Health shows that on April 24th, the actual hospitalization number was 2,111—despite the model predicting over 400,000. That model was off by about 463,000 hospitalizations.
As we can see, the numbers prove the media wrong and calm down the hysteria that has been created.
Clearly, the media was wrong on the outcome and played up the numbers to push the governor to lock down the state and keep us at home.
Still, don’t expect the media to correct the record on the numbers and tell you that their models were wrong as we have seen time and time again that it is politics, not science, that determines who gets the good news cycle and who does not.