Reprinted with permission from Alternet.
Health officials in the United States have feared that if states end their stay-at-home orders too soon and relax social distancing restrictions prematurely, the result could be an increase in COVID-19 infections. And in the Miami Herald, a new report from reporters Sarah Blaskey, Ben Conarck, Daniel Chang and Nicholas Nehamas finds that coronavirus infections appear to be on the rise in Florida.
"As bars, gyms, vacation rentals and movie theaters reopened at partial capacity last week in all but three South Florida counties, the number and rate of new COVID-19 cases were rising statewide — a troubling indicator that the disease could be spreading more quickly," according to the Herald reporters.
Blaskey, Conarck, Chang and Nehamas go on to cite examples of ways in which "Florida's coronavirus numbers have continued their surge" — for example, "Thursday's statewide tally of new positives: 1698, which was the highest single-day total of confirmed cases yet. That number, in turn, was exceeded on Friday, when the state announced another 1902 confirmed cases."
After reviewing the Herald's analysis, Eric Toner of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security told the publication: "We are seeing the very leading indicators of a resurgence in the number of cases, and now is the time to take action."
The Herald reporters explain the publication's methodology for analyzing coronavirus data in Florida.
"The Herald used three-day rolling averages of new cases and the percentage of positive tests out of total tests to calculate trends over seven- and 14-day periods," they wrote. "Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that communities should not move into Phase Two without seeing a 'downward trajectory' in either new cases or rate of positive tests for at least two weeks after entering Phase One."
Moreover, the journalists add: "Signs of increased transmission of the virus are also apparent in statewide trends of new cases recorded during the last weeks of May and early June. Over the two-week period prior to June 5, the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 increased by about 1.6 percentage points statewide."