It has been two years since the first COVID-19 cases and the first COVID-19 deaths were tabulated in Florida, and the toll through the end of last week shows that more than 5.8 million cases were confirmed in Florida and more than 71,000 people died because of it.
Floridians — all Americans, indeed most of the world — head into the spring of 2022 with high hopes that at long last the coronavirus has been subdued into a minor health threat. That is the position of Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo.
The hope lies in the expectation that new drastic surges are unlikely because infection numbers have fallen fast the past couple of months, and because enough people now are vaccinated or have developed natural immunity from having gotten the virus.
Yet that pretty much was the hope last June before a new summer surge hit Florida, leading to 19,900 COVID-19 deaths being recorded in just 12 weeks starting in early August. It turned out to be Florida’s deadliest outbreak, by far, in the 24 months of the pandemic. Florida’s summer 2021 surge also was the worst in the country last year.
And it was the hope again last November, before a new winter surge hit Florida, setting new records in numbers of cases — more than 1 million confirmed in just three weeks in December and January. And though most of the cases were mild due to the omicron variant, they still led to another 9,600 Floridians’ deaths being recorded over the 12-week period starting just before Christmas.
By comparison, about 11,700 Floridians’ COVID-19 deaths were recorded during the worst 12-week stretch of the winter of 2020-21, and about 10,300 COVID-19 deaths were recorded during the worst 12 weeks of the summer 2020 surge.
Florida confirmed its first two COVID-19 cases on March 1, 2020, and reported the first two COVID-19 deaths a week later.
It was on March 19, 2020, that the Florida Department of Health issued its first COVID-19 situation report. It showed that Florida had confirmed 289 cases and seven deaths in those first few days after the virus first emerged in Florida.
Last Friday, the latest edition of that same report, issued weekly since last June, showed Florida has tallied 5,824,728 cases through the 24 months of the pandemic, through last Thursday. The most recent report also shows the Department of Health attributing 71,860 Floridians’ deaths to the disease.
The state’s most recent weekly totals of new COVID-19 cases (10,211 for the seven days through last Thursday) and newly recorded deaths (863) are way down from 2022 peaks seen in January and February. Yet they still are not as low as the nadirs seen last November, before this winter’s surge began, or last June, before the summer 2020 surge began.
Time will tell.
Here’s how Florida’s COVID-19 pandemic compares nationally over the two years since the crisis began, according to data compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from reports from state departments of health, including Florida. The latest data are complete through last Wednesday:
— Florida’s 5.8 million cases are third most in the country, behind California and Texas, the only states with greater populations than Florida. New York, with a slightly smaller population than Florida’s, is fourth.
— Florida’s per capita rate of 27,113 cases per 100,000 residents is 11th worst in the country. Alaska, Rhode Island and North Dakota are first, second and third. New York is 21st, while California is 37th and Texas is 39th.
— Florida’s 71,474 COVID-19 deaths are third most in the country, again behind California and Texas, and just ahead of New York.
— Florida’s per capita rate of 333 deaths per 100,000 residents is 18th worst in the country. Mississippi, Arizona and Alabama are first, second and third. New York is 10th, while Texas is 30th and California is 39th.
— Florida is fourth in the country in the number of residents, 16.8 million, who have been administered at least one dose of a vaccine, behind California, Texas and New York.
— Florida has the nation’s 19th-best vaccination rate, with 78% of the population having received at least one shot. Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island are first, second and third. New York is 8th, while California is 15th and Texas is 27th.
— Florida is fourth in the country in the number of residents, 14.2 million, who have been fully vaccinated, with or without booster shots, behind California, Texas and New York.
— Florida has the nation’s 21st best rate of people being fully vaccinated, 66%. Rhode Island, Vermont and Maine are first, second and third. New York is seventh, while California is 12th and Texas is 29th.
— Among senior citizens, 90% of Floridians 65 years old or older have been fully vaccinated. That is the 23rd-best rate in the country. Rhode Island, Vermont and Maine are first, second and third. New York is 24th, California ranks 26th and Texas is 32nd.
— Among younger children, 24% of Florida kids ages 5 to 11 have received at least one dose of vaccine. That is the nation’s 36th-highest rate.
— Among older children, 66% of Florida youths ages 12-17 have received at least one dose of vaccine. That is the nation’s 25th-highest rate.