With Friday’s report from the Florida Department of Health, Florida now has been averaging more than 100 new COVID-19 deaths per day over the past nine days.
In a humane world, those deaths should not be viewed as numbers. Yet, except for when specific stories come to light, it is impossible to describe the lives lost, or to explain families mourning and coming to grips with rebuilding without grandma, or grandpa, or mom, or dad, or husband, or wife, or son, or daughter. All the information that state officials provide on coronavirus deaths remains anonymous, detailed only by ages, genders, and counties.
So Floridians are left largely with the numbers to contemplate the seriousness of the death toll in Florida’s coronavirus outbreak. What do they mean?
Florida’s numbers of COVID-19 cases began resurging in mid-June. Florida’s numbers of hospitalizations began resurging in late June. Florida’s numbers of COVID-19 related deaths began rising rapidly just in the past couple of weeks.
In a state of 21 million residents, 100 deaths per day could seem like less than a statistical rounding error. And many people often try that argument when they contend the coronavirus crisis is little more than overblown fear-mongering.
But it’s not.
According to Florida Department of Health reports on causes of death, at the pace of 100 deaths per day, COVID-19 is now ranking as Florida’s third most common killer. That is behind only heart diseases, which kill about 129 Floridians per day on average, and all cancers combined, which kill an average of 125 people per day, according to DoH data.
The next worst cause of death, strokes and other cerebrovascular diseases, takes about 38 Floridians’ lives per day on average; all fatal accidental injuries combined, about 36; and lung diseases, 33.
In the most immediate trend, the past four days, COVID-19 patients are being reported dying at a rate, on average, of 132 per day. That is a worse pace than the annual rates for either heart disease or cancer patients. For the rate seen the past few days, it could be said that COVID-19 might be Florida’s leading cause of death.
There is no way to see where the trends might go from there, though most epidemiological models project dire directions, not hopeful ones.
Past trends are a matter of record though.
Florida’s COVID-19 death rate first started averaging 30 per day, in a rolling seven-day average, on April 8. That average daily death toll has never fallen below 30 again, not even during the hopeful period of late May and early June when it looked as if the coronavirus crisis might be under control in Florida. The rolling seven-day average surpassed 40 deaths per day on July 2, 50 on July 9, and 90 on Wednesday.
With Friday’s report, the rolling seven-day average topped 100 deaths per day for the first time.
Through Friday, 4,805 Floridians have died of COVID-19, plus another 107 visitors. If no one else dies of COVID-19 through the rest of the year, the disease still would likely finish 2020 as the eighth leading cause of death in Florida, behind heart diseases, cancers, strokes, injuries, respiratory disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes.
The current death toll means more Floridians already have died from COVID-19 than died in all of last year from suicides, car crashes, liver diseases, kidney diseases, influenza, Parkinson’s disease, or homicides.
Since April 1, when the death toll started to rise in the first wave of the coronavirus outbreak, Florida has been averaging 44 COVID-19 deaths per day.