Floridian COVID Cases Plunged Just as Schools Opened
There is a lot of misleading COVID information out there. Much of it comes from the mainstream media. The impact on COVID hospitalizations from the return of children to school is a case in point.
Nowhere has this question received more focus than in Florida where the governor's insistence that there be no mask mandates has been met with resistance by some school districts as well as criticism of healthcare professions and various media outlets. I find the governor's position to be extreme, but the coverage makes it sound like Florida's situation is an impending disaster. Is it?
Masks or no masks the data don't indicate the return of school-age children has, so far, had a negative impact. The majority of Floridian grade school students returned to school between August 10 and August 18 with the predominant number weighted toward August 10.
Given the coverage one would think that cases and hospitalizations would have increased dramatically since then. But the opposite has occurred. Cases and hospitalizations stabilized around August 18 and started a steep decline on August 23.
Last year Florida hospitalizations started falling toward the end of July and didn't stop until mid-October. Hospitalizations in the rest of the country started rising about three weeks earlier than that.
The question in all this is "why." We'd cut down on divisiveness and do the public a big service by spending more time on trying to determine why we're seeing what we're seeing rather than publishing one-sided stories. Unfortunately, reasoned analysis doesn't generate as much revenue for a media outlet as do stories of impending doom or stories that COVID's threat is overblown.
As a consequence, the public's understanding of COVID's dynamics doesn't advance very much. I see much the same thing with consumer analytics, but that's a story for another post.