After increasing exponentially through early April, the growth rate for recorded cases of the coronavirus in Florida has slowed, but the total number continues to climb.
How have cases grown so far?
This chart shows the total number of positive cases. The line will never go down, but it will become flat when there are no new cases.
The state updates this data twice a day, at roughly 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. You should treat the case count for the most recent day as partial, and sometimes the state adds cases with older dates, as well.
The virus has already spread to more people than are reflected here. Test results from some private labs are taking a week or more to come back and many people who have COVID-19 do not feel symptoms. Still, the number is climbing by the hour.
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How are we doing?
Experts say the most important question at this stage is whether the number of new cases of the virus is growing faster or slower than yesterday. But that can be hard to see without using a logarithmic scale, which is designed to show whether the growth in cases is speeding up or slowing down.
This is the number of cases announced each day, charted that way. It shows Florida alongside other hotspots, like New York and Louisiana, so you can see how well each state is slowing the virus. We also added a dotted line showing where that number will be if the growth rate stays the same for another week. The steepness of each line shows how fast the growth rate is right now — flatter is better.
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What about deaths?
So far, deaths have lagged behind positive cases by several weeks on a similar trajectory. Here’s the growth rate for the number of deaths in the same states. Again, flatter is better.
In most states, the lines are bending downward over time, as the increases in cases and deaths slow down. The dotted lines show the future if the lines don’t bend at all, meaning the growth rate continues as it has been for the last week. But even as it continues to bend, it’s similar to easing off the gas pedal in a car. It’s not speeding up quite as fast, but that doesn’t mean it immediately slows down.
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How, exactly, is the growth rate changing?
We can measure growth by looking at the last week of data and seeing how long it is taking for the number of cases to double. If the line is going down, that means it’s taking longer and growth is slowing. The more quickly the line goes down, the better. Here’s the chart for cases:
Here’s the chart for deaths:
Deaths in Florida were initially growing more slowly than in other states, but Florida’s rate has been slower to drop off.
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What factors could change those rates?
Governments have put increasingly stringent social distancing policies into effect, including a statewide stay-at-home order that was issued on April 1. That should help turn the number of new infections downward, although public health experts warn it takes several weeks for those effects to show up in the data.
There is also a lot of uncertainty about how quickly labs are processing tests. If lots of people’s outstanding tests come back positive at once, Florida’s curve will shoot up again.
Medical experts also have warned that deaths may spike if hospitals become overloaded. Right now, both deaths and hospitalizations in Florida are growing exponentially. (This chart shows all people who have been hospitalized so far, not those currently in the hospital. Some of those people have died.)
Projected future rates are based on the past seven days of data.
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