June 21: Increases in cases across age groups

Article written by both the Wolf and the Badger

The median age of every person living in Florida is 42. The median age of all DOH cases to date is 44. And the median age of all new cases in June is also 44. Ron DeSantis has been using trends in young people getting tested to diminish the increased activity of COVID-19 across the state. Here’s why that’s not only misleading, but dangerous.

When surveillance and testing started in January, the limited supply of COVID-19 test kits available were restricted to persons older than 65, those who had traveled to China (none of whom tested positive until March 27), and those with known contact to a confirmed case.

As more people gained access to testing in the following months, the median age of those tested obviously went down.

Today, as people are forced to either go back to work or lose their unemployment benefits, young people are being exposed and tested more frequently. Though it should be noted that the details and data regarding current testing activity and antibody data are extremely limited.

For example, in Leon county, there’s only one location that provides antibody testing without a referral, and it requires a full blood donation to do so. The lack of clarity about where to get tested, and DOH’s refusal to provide information about testing sites has limited the amount of information that reaches the public.

By the way, you can find all testing locations on both the Florida COVID Action dashboard and the URISA GISCorps page.

The idea they’re pushing is that since cases in younger people are increasing, the eventual burden on our healthcare system should be less severe, ignoring the proportional increase in all other age groups (see above chart).

However, 10% (about 3,000 people) of those testing positive in the last three weeks who are under age 60 have already been admitted to an Emergency Room — and ER data is often reported to DOH up to 40 days after the initial admission, meaning those are the preliminary and incomplete figures. In that same vein (pun intended), 1,200 have been admitted as in-patients to a hospital that DOH knows about (and there are many, many more they won’t find out about until July or August).

Death data is received by DOH weeks and sometimes even months after the date a person actually died. Still, 32 people under 60 have already been verified to have died who were diagnosed in the last three weeks.

And it may be hard for some to remember, but regardless of their age, race, gender, professional or political affiliation, these cases are people. The death numbers represent real people. And just because a person is under 80 doesn’t mean that COVID-19 isn’t a painful and heartbreaking experience for those who die and their loved ones.

To give you an idea, here is the medical examiner’s comments on just a few of those who died.

Male, 31, Alachua County:

“According to the decedent’s wife, the decedent had a dry cough for several weeks and spiked a fever on 4/17. On 4/18, his temperature rose to 102 degrees Fahrenheit. On 4/19, the decedent’s temperature increased and he presented to Mercy Medical Urgent Care in Lake City. He was discharged from Mercy Medical Urgent Care with an ear infection and was told that he was not a likely candidate for the COVID-19 virus. According to medical records, on 4/20 the decedent began having trouble breathing and presented to Lake City Medical Center. On the same day, he was transferred to North Florida Regional Medical Center for a higher level of care and tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. According to medical records, the decedent was transferred to the ICU due to hypoxia and was found to have severe respiratory failure. He was pronounced dead on 4/25.”

Male, Age 57, Seminole County:

“Admitted on March 29, 2020 for hypotension and shortness of breath. Found to have fever in ER and pneumonia on CXR. Admitted for same. Developed worsening hypoxia requiring intubation and ventilation. COVID testing POSITIVE on 04/06/2020. Later tested negative, but never improved and never recovered. Died in hospital on 05/06/2020.”

Female, 36, Orange County

“The decedent was admitted on 4/23 with shortness of breath. She tested positive COVID-19 on 4/24, was intubated, and placed on ECMO. Her symptoms worsened and she passed away on 5/2.

Male, 27, Leon County

“He presented to Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare ER for ~1 week history of cough and shortness of breath. He reportedly had been in contact with his mother in South Florida who was COVID-19 positive. A chest x-ray was suggestive for pneumonia. In the ER he went into acute respiratory arrest and was eventually pronounced dead on April 16. The swabs eventually came back COVID-19 positive.”

Female, 38, Broward County

The decedent presented to the ER from home via Fire Rescue on 03/15/2020 with complaints of shortness of breath. She was admitted and diagnosed with pneumonia. She began to have severe respiratory distress on 03/16/2020 and was tested for COVID-19 which later came back positive. She was then intubated and moved to the ICU. The decedent continued to decline and was pronounced deceased on 04/01/2020.”

And as to DeSantis’ blatantly racist claim that Hispanic laborers are to blame for the rise?

On June 1, persons identifying as Hispanic made up 35% of cases. On June 21, they made up 35% of cases. That’s a 0% change.

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