Patterico's Pontifications

8/3/2020

Florida Doing Either Great or Terrible on COVID, Depending on the News Outlet You Read

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am



Choose your story. These both appeared yesterday.

Fox News:

Florida reports fewest daily coronavirus deaths in nearly 3 weeks, lowest daily cases in a month

Positive signs out of the state include a continued decrease in new patients being hospitalized for COVID-19

As virus-hit Florida braces for Tropical Storm Isaias, the state on Sunday reported its fewest daily coronavirus deaths in nearly three weeks and its lowest daily number of cases in almost a month.

Florida’s number of confirmed fatalities rose by 62, for a total of at least 7,084. The state reported another 7,104 positive cases – down from 9,619 the previous day – for a cumulative tally of 487,132.

After battling record-breaking COVID-19 cases and deaths last month, the state’s daily positive rate of infections dropped below 10 percent for the first time since June 24.

More positive signs out of Florida included the continued decline in the number of new patients being hospitalized for COVID-19. The number of patients being treated in hospitals rose by 178 – down 261 from the previous day and down more than 1,000 from peak levels two weeks ago.

TheHill.com:

Florida surpasses record for most COVID-19 deaths in single week

Florida on Sunday surpassed its record for the most COVID-19 deaths in a single week, with 1,230 reported in the past seven days.

The Sunshine State broke the previous record, set one week earlier, after recording 257 deaths on Friday, the most in a single day, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

On Sunday, the state recorded 62 additional deaths, bringing its total during the pandemic to 7,084, according to Florida data.

In the past week, Florida has also identified 63,277 new coronavirus cases and 3,086 hospitalizations. By comparison, [Florida] experienced 73,808 new cases, 3,093 hospitalizations and 872 deaths in the week ended last Sunday, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

So there you have it. Either last week either set a record for the most COVID deaths in a week, or the state just reported its fewest daily coronavirus deaths in nearly three weeks.

The thing is, I suppose both can be true — depending on whether you focus on a single day or a week. For what it’s worth, focusing on a single day or even a single week can be misleading without drilling down into when the deaths occurred as opposed to when they were reported, and accounting for the occasional dump of a backlog of death stats due to new information or changes in classification. But for the average reader just trying to get an answer, it’s hard to make sense out of the data without going out on your own and digging deeper than either outlet apparently cares to do. Most people rely on the headline and the basic narrative of the article. Who has time to spend hours pawing through data? Isn’t that what these people are being paid to do before they write the story?

Few things illustrate the partisan spin that different outlets can put on a set of facts like the huge divide between the perspectives of these two stories. We’re increasingly living in an atomized society where reality itself, include hard facts relating to the biggest story in years, seems to depend entirely on which Web site you click on.

50 Responses to “Florida Doing Either Great or Terrible on COVID, Depending on the News Outlet You Read”

  1. CBS12 in Florida has caught some of the news agencies deliberately misreporting the infection numbers and death tolls to make them look worse than they are (for example, sitting on data for several days before adding them all up and dumping them in one lot).

    My advice? Double check everything and take it all with a big grain of salt. There are some people out there who want us to stay scared — so start looking for who profits from our society limping along.

    Capsaicin Addict (041266)

  2. My free advice, redeemable for a fancy coffee (green coupons required).

    Nothing is going to improve unless and until there is a functional vaccine or we as a society take C19 seriously. Until then, you as an individual are responsible for the health of yourself and those in your bubble. “Take it seriously” means what it sounds like – impose and enforce rules limiting opportunity for spread until it is controlled, and re-impose them on any flare-ups.

    Place your own bets on our capability to do that.

    john (cd2753)

  3. I always chuckle when any reporter claims they have a “data focused” perspective. You can literally take any data and massage it to what you want it to say. And, it’s hardly new to our partisan age.

    In my statistics course, this brief little book written many many decades ago was a staple:

    How to Lie with Statistics https://www.amazon.com/dp/0393310728/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_3AdkFbJ0EFHVQ

    Every time I read a “data focused” news story, the tricks I remember from the book always seem to show up.

    beer ‘n pretzels (afb340)

  4. It’s going to be interesting at the end of the year to compare the total number of deaths in the United States during 2020 vs. the total number of deaths in 2019 and previous years, to see if this year’s fatality toll is a major outlier, or if you have a situation where COVID-19 has only bumped the death toll up slightly and the numbers aren’t all that different from other years with major flu scares, like 2009-10 with H1N1. (It might also answer the question as to whether or not there have been people dying from other causes that have been assigned to COVID, as some have alleged.)

    John (b817f5)

  5. ‘My advice? Double check everything and take it all with a big grain of salt.’

    My advice: practice social distancing and wear a damn mask.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  6. Just like victoria province in australia, oops

    Narciso (7404b5)

  7. @4, we’re already way over what the flu did in recent memory. We might find that 2019/2020 flu season was mild and that increased deaths from covid and that the 2020/21 flue season isn’t bad because covid pulled those deaths ahead. But I’m not sure how likely that is.

    What we know now is that between 150,000 and 200,000 more American’s have died that would be considered ‘normal’.

    It looks like Florida and Texas might have turned the corner. But what worries me is that there’s a high level of death from a respiratory disease at a time of year when that typically isn’t a problem.

    Time123 (dba73f)

  8. I check out this site at least once a day, and Florida has been in the top five in new cases and deaths for weeks on end, as are Texas and California. And it makes sense to not limit cable news viewing just to FoxNews or just to CNN.
    And what’s a post about Florida without the latest goings on with “Florida Man” such as here, here and here.

    Paul Montagu (1ef895)

  9. I’m not blaming either Pravda or Izvestia in this one. I’m blaming Ron DeSantis whose favorite song is “Uptown Girl” (by Billy Joel) and who’s been playing with the numbers every which way described in the Kama Sutra (of Vatsyayana) to keep his own Uptown heart-throb happy.

    nk (1d9030)

  10. This probably won’t help with media objectivity in Florida.

    BELLEAIR — A member of the press who covered President Donald Trump’s trip to the Tampa Bay area Friday has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the White House Correspondent’s Association.
    […]
    The positive test came barely a day after the journalist stood in close proximity to dozens of other reporters, photographers — and the country’s top elected official at the Pelican Golf Club in Belleair.
    Also in the room with the journalist was Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sen. Rick Scott, state Sen. Wilton Simpson, Pinellas County Commissioner Kathleen Peters and state Rep. Danny Perez.

    Paul Montagu (1ef895)

  11. Floridians are still working hard to re-open and they have a fraction of the fatalities that New York has seen.

    Colonel Haiku (fc723d)

  12. It will be nice when the media stops fanning the flames once Biden is president. I for one long for the days of “funemployment” stories.

    Hoi Polloi (dc4124)

  13. Trump laims the media is unfair because they don’t cover, with equal vigor, coronavirus cases rising after an opeining in other countries, like in Australia.

    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/latest-news/coronavirus-us-president-donald-trump-says-pandemic-is-devastating-australia/news-story/a39c8281679e0d867e2ab8a32b924dfd

    “A resurgence has taken place in many countries that people thought were doing well. Despite a wide range of approaches to the pandemic, this resurgence in cases is occurring throughout large portions of our planet – in Japan, China, Australia, Belgium, Spain, France, Germany, Hong Kong – places where they thought they’d really done great,” he said at a press conference today. “It came back, and in a couple of cases came back very strongly.”

    The President went on: “The virus was said to be under control but new cases have risen very significantly once again. So when you think someone is doing well, sometimes you have to hold your decision on that.

    “Since the beginning of June, daily new cases have increased by a factor of nearly 30 times in Australia”.

    It;s like golf. You do better if you hit a birdie but you also come out better if other plaeers all hit a bogey or double bogey.

    Meanwhile, Democrats are worried that Trump is pushing too hard for a vaccine or a cure.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/02/us/politics/coronavirus-vaccine.html

    It is not clear that a vaccine approval shortly before the election would be an “October surprise” sufficient to alter the outcome of the vote. An announcement could give Americans hope that the end is in sight. But some Republican strategists said that it might not help Mr. Trump because his opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic nominee, would surely continue the vaccine process if elected.

    But what would be an “October Surprise” would be for something to come out in sufficient advance of the election for i to be apparent that it works, and for Joe Biden to have fought it.

    Sammy Finkelman (fe6a9b)

  14. Florida has the largest rate of new cases per capita in the country (bad) AND recently went from that number of cases increasing to decreasing (good). So yes, both stories are accurate, and there’s really no mystery here.

    A picture tells a thousand words; the first graph on this page makes it obvious what’s going on.

    Dave (1bb933)

  15. Flu season is likely to be more minimal because people are taking all sorts of precautions against infection.

    Sammy Finkelman (fe6a9b)

  16. One of the things introductory physics students find hardest to understand is the difference between velocity (the rate at which the position of something is changing) and acceleration (the rate at which velocity itself is changing). In particular, they often have a very hard time accepting the idea that the velocity of something can be positive (or zero) while the acceleration is negative. Or vice-versa.

    A simple demonstration reveals their confusion. I toss an eraser up in the air and ask “what’s the eraser’s acceleration at the highest point?” Typically 2/3 of the students incorrectly say “zero”.

    Dave (1bb933)

  17. Dave (1bb933) — 8/3/2020 @ 11:48 am

    I toss an eraser up in the air and ask “what’s the eraser’s acceleration at the highest point?” Typically 2/3 of the students incorrectly say “zero”.

    That’s wrong??

    Both the velocity and the acceleration at that point is zero. Or do you mean that gravity is always acting upon it?

    Could what is going on with Covid death totals (fewes deaths in three weeks, and greatets death total in a week) be that one statistic deals with deaths and the other deals with death certificates. And some people are added to the totals only after awhile.

    Sammy Finkelman (fe6a9b)

  18. Floridians are still working hard to re-open and they have a fraction of the fatalities that New York has seen.

    Colonel Haiku (fc723d) — 8/3/2020 @ 11:04 am

    Everyone had a fraction of NYC’s fatalities. They were hit first and our treatment has improved since then. They also didn’t protect nursing homes properly. They incorrectly thought hospitals were the most threatened. DeBlasio did a god awful job managing the problem. From what I’ve seen new yorkers didn’t do very well at social distancing.

    Time123 (441f53)

  19. Ohio is a much better comparison. Plus both state governments are GOP so you can look at policy without getting twitchy about what it means for your favored party.

    Time123 (441f53)

  20. Ohio is a much better comparison.

    Is it? How many people make Ohio their vacation destination… particularly New Yorkers?

    beer ‘n pretzels (334591)

  21. That’s wrong??

    Yes, that’s wrong. :-)

    Both the velocity and the acceleration at that point is zero.

    If the velocity AND acceleration were both zero, it would remain floating there in mid-air forever…

    In fact, the vertical acceleration is negative (and unchanging) from the time it leaves my hand until it hits the ground or I catch it on the way down.

    Dave (1bb933)

  22. Dave (1bb933) — 8/3/2020 @ 12:27 pm

    If the velocity AND acceleration were both zero, it would remain floating there in mid-air forever…

    You said “t the highest point” That alasts on;y for a infinismal period of time, but that’s calculus.

    In fact, the vertical acceleration is negative (and unchanging) from the time it leaves my hand until it hits the ground or I catch it on the way down.

    Yes, because the earth’s gravity is constantly exerting a force on it. But it’s hard to think that way.

    Sammy Finkelman (fe6a9b)

  23. That lasts only for a infinismal period of time, but that’s calculus.

    Don’t make me trot out Zeno’s paradoxes!

    Dave (1bb933)

  24. It’s not an either/or. Those headlines are not mutually exclusive given the low (and falling) death rates for new diagnosed cases. Most CoViD-19 cases do not result in death. And by “most,” I mean upwards of 99.89% don’t.

    Gryph (f7c533)

  25. Dave,

    If the velocity AND acceleration were both zero, it would remain floating there in mid-air forever…

    In fact, the vertical acceleration is negative (and unchanging) from the time it leaves my hand until it hits the ground or I catch it on the way down.

    This isn’t right.

    you hit a ball straight up in a very simple world. There are 2 forces acting on the ball. The force from your hit and gravity. The force from your hit gives the ball an acceleration up. The force from your hit is momentary, but the force from gravity doesn’t stop, or diminish. Eventually that force slows the ball to a stop and starts pushing it back down. There is a moment at the apex where the ball is not moving up or down. It’s velocity and acceleration are both zero, but the force of gravity is still acting on it so it stops moving up and starts moving back down.

    Time123 (ca85c9)

  26. It’s not an either/or. Those headlines are not mutually exclusive given the low (and falling) death rates for new diagnosed cases. Most CoViD-19 cases do not result in death. And by “most,” I mean upwards of 99.89% don’t.

    Gryph (f7c533) — 8/3/2020 @ 12:52 pm

    Somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 additional people have died from it so far this year. In July it was about 10,000 extra deaths in Texas.

    Time123 (ca85c9)

  27. It’s not an either/or. Those headlines are not mutually exclusive given the low (and falling) death rates for new diagnosed cases. Most CoViD-19 cases do not result in death. And by “most,” I mean upwards of 99.89% don’t.

    Release teh KARENz !!!!!!!!!!

    Colonel Haiku (5eeb77)

  28. One of the things introductory physics students find hardest to understand is the difference between velocity … and acceleration …

    I hope the people who have difficulty grasping that very elementary distinction aren’t planning careers in science.

    Radegunda (e1ea47)

  29. @30, don’t be snide. One of my engineering profs used to say that engineering intuition needs to be learned. If you haven’t been trained on it the particulars of energy, forces, & motion can be tricky.

    Time123 (441f53)

  30. If you haven’t been trained on it the particulars of energy, forces, & motion can be tricky.

    Fortunately, I’m a physics professor. :-)

    Eventually that force slows the ball to a stop and starts pushing it back down.

    The force of gravity is “pushing it back down” from the moment it leaves your hand.

    There is a moment at the apex where the ball is not moving up or down. It’s velocity and acceleration are both zero, but the force of gravity is still acting on it so it stops moving up and starts moving back down.

    Sorry Time123, but you’re the one mistaken here (and I thank you and Narciso for helping make my point…).

    The acceleration of an eraser thrown up in the air is constant, and never zero.

    See Example 3.15d, here.

    Dave (1bb933)

  31. Sorry, I meant Sammy, not Narciso.

    Dave (1bb933)

  32. “I mean upwards of 99.89% don’t.”

    This can’t possibly be correct. This would imply that the total expected death rate if the entire country was infected would be 400,000 people.

    Davethulhu (a0909f)

  33. Florida on Sunday surpassed its record for the most COVID-19 deaths in a single week, with 1,230 reported in the past seven days.

    Note the careful phrasing of this: Florida surpased its record. In other words, it passed the record for the state of Florida. It did not come close to breaking the record for any state in the US, and likely never will. New York, for instance had 11 straight days with more than 800 deaths each day. (Scroll down a ways to find the daily death chart.)

    Things are bad in Florida, to be sure. The number of new cases is alarming. But the deaths that have resulted are pretty mild compared to other states. If you look at deaths per million people, you find the four highest states:

    New Jersey: 1793
    New York: 1686
    Massachusetts: 1255
    Connecticut: 1245

    Florida ranks 18th with 333 (national average 439). Total deaths in New York currently 32,790; total deaths in Florida 7,157.

    Those numbers will undoubtedly change over time.

    Both sides want to play games with the numbers. But if we are going to excoriate Florida for its handling of the virus, shouldn’t we take the top four states to task even more? And if we’re going to claim a state is breaking records, shouldn’t we clarify which records it’s breaking?

    Chuck Bartowski (6fff93)

  34. Dave, you’re right. It will have a zero velocity at the apex (assuming it’s thrown straight up) but it will have an acceleration from the force of gravity until it comes to rest on the ground. I was thinking about acceleration as the rate of change of velocity and if x’=0 then x”= also equals zero.

    Time123 (441f53)

  35. @35, I would hope we do better with this now, then we did when it first started.

    Time123 (441f53)

  36. But if we are going to excoriate Florida for its handling of the virus, shouldn’t we take the top four states to task even more?

    I don’t think “excoriating Florida” is the point of the article. Communicating that there’s an ongoing emergency that people should understand and take seriously is.

    And if we’re going to claim a state is breaking records, shouldn’t we clarify which records it’s breaking?

    But it is clear, as you point out yourself.

    Dave (1bb933)

  37. Republican Michigan senator critical of Gretchen Whitmer tests positive for COVID-19
    ……
    Sen. Tom Barrett, R-Charlotte, who is viewed as a rising star in the Republican Party, sponsored a bill in April to repeal one of the two state laws that allow the governor to declare emergencies. He becomes the third Michigan lawmaker to test positive for the coronavirus……
    …..
    Barrett was also in attendance for committee meetings that took place last week, according to a notification the Senate Business Office sent out Sunday night.

    “He is unsure of the date he contracted the virus; however, Sen. Barrett has indicated that he was practicing social distancing, had a mask on when not inside his office and sanitized regularly,” the notice said.
    ……
    Barrett, a 39-year-old, first-term Republican senator, has supported the Unlock Michigan petition drive to limit the emergency powers of Whitmer and future governors. He held a petition signing event for the campaign on July 18.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  38. But it is clear, as you point out yourself.

    No, it really isn’t clear. Click on the link and look at the headline of the article at The Hill: “Florida surpasses record for most COVID-19 deaths in single week” Where does it say that it’s referring only to Florida’s record for weekly deaths? If you read the entire article, you’ll find it never mentions that it’s talking about only deaths in Florida, and never compares the totals to other states. You’d have to go elsewhere to find that, compared to deaths in other states, Florida’s total isn’t quite so bad.

    Chuck Bartowski (6fff93)

  39. How the Pandemic Defeated America

    How did it come to this? A virus a thousand times smaller than a dust mote has humbled and humiliated the planet’s most powerful nation. America has failed to protect its people, leaving them with illness and financial ruin. It has lost its status as a global leader. It has careened between inaction and ineptitude. The breadth and magnitude of its errors are difficult, in the moment, to truly fathom.

    In the first half of 2020, SARS‑CoV‑2—the new coronavirus behind the disease COVID‑19—infected 10 million people around the world and killed about half a million. But few countries have been as severely hit as the United States, which has just 4 percent of the world’s population but a quarter of its confirmed COVID‑19 cases and deaths. These numbers are estimates. The actual toll, though undoubtedly higher, is unknown, because the richest country in the world still lacks sufficient testing to accurately count its sick citizens.
    …….

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  40. 41… bet teh champagne was flowing at the Atlantic after that piece of excrement was shat out…

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  41. The Atlantic: who… us!?!?

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  42. #31, I wasn’t being snide. I’m not a scientist or a genius, and I seriously don’t see how it could be hard for a physics student to understand the difference between how fast something is going and how much its speed is changing.
    Quantum mechanics and wave functions are hard. Velocity vs. acceleration is not.

    Radegunda (e1ea47)

  43. All Mr. Dave did was test his students in the terms of his art. The jargon of his field. The magic mantras of the initiates of his religion. Velocity, om mani padne om, om padne mani om, acceleration, hail oh Newton!

    Most people know that gravity is always pulling the eraser down; that it’s not going to go any faster than it’s going when it leaves your hand; and that soon it’s going to lose its momentum and gravity will drag it back down; and pretty much in these words too. What most people don’t necessarily know are the holy words the priests of physics use to describe these phenomena. Amen!

    nk (1d9030)

  44. Trump criticizes Birx for the first time after she issues coronavirus warnings
    President Donald Trump criticized Dr. Deborah Birx in a Monday tweet after she warned the pandemic is “extraordinarily widespread” in the US.
    ……
    “So Crazy Nancy Pelosi said horrible things about Dr. Deborah Birx, going after her because she was too positive on the very good job we are doing on combatting the China Virus, including Vaccines & Therapeutics. In order to counter Nancy, Deborah took the bait & hit us. Pathetic!” Trump wrote.
    …….
    “What we are seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread. It’s into the rural as equal urban areas,” she said, suggesting that some Americans in multi-generational families should start wearing masks inside their homes.

    She did not reject a warning by former Federal Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb that there could be 300,000 coronavirus deaths by the end of the year, saying, “Anything is possible.”
    ……

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  45. BTW… any of the yokels who constantly link to CNN know if CNN ever got the answer to their question re: whether Malaysian Flight 370 disappeared in a Black Hole?

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  46. 28. about 7600 people die *daily* of all non-covid causes. Or to put it another way, assuming that the numbers are correct and tallied in good faith (and I assume neither, but I digress), it’s taken CoViD-19 about four-and-a-half months what takes mother nature roughly twenty days to do without CoViD.

    Gryph (f7c533)

  47. The six strains of SARS-CoV-2
    The virus causing the COVID-19 pandemic, SARS-CoV-2, presents at least six strains. Despite its mutations, the virus shows little variability, and this is good news for the researchers working on a viable vaccine.

    These are the results of the most extensive study ever carried out on SARS-CoV-2 sequencing. Researchers at the University of Bologna drew from the analysis of 48,635 coronavirus genomes, which were isolated by researchers in labs all over the world. This study was published in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology……
    ……
    “The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is presumably already optimized to affect human beings, and this explains its low evolutionary change”, explains Federico Giorgi, a researcher at Unibo and coordinator of the study. “This means that the treatments we are developing, including a vaccine, might be effective against all the virus strains”.

    Currently, there are six strains of coronavirus. The original one is the L strain, that appeared in Wuhan in December 2019. Its first mutation – the S strain – appeared at the beginning of 2020, while, since mid-January 2020, we have had strains V and G. To date strain G is the most widespread: it mutated into strains GR and GH at the end of February 2020.
    …..
    …..[S]trains G and GR are the most frequent across Europe and Italy. According to the available data, GH strain seems close to non-existence in Italy, while it occurs more frequently in France and Germany. This seems to confirm the effectiveness of last months’ containment methods.

    In North America, the most widespread strain is GH, while in South America we find the GR strain more frequently. In Asia, where the Wuhan L strain initially appeared, the spread of strains G, GH and GR is increasing. These strains landed in Asia only at the beginning of March, more than a month after their spread in Europe.
    ……

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  48. What most people don’t necessarily know are the holy words the priests of physics use to describe these phenomena. Amen!

    But we have sacred inscriptions, also known as formulas, that allow the initiated to see into the future!

    Tremble before our mighty powers, o ye that dwell in the darkness of ignorance and the squalor of superstition!

    Dave (1bb933)


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