As I write this FL is headed for a peak of over 200 deaths per day – and has record hospitalizations. All avoidable -with no consequences! To see what FL has done in a simple graph (#51?), click here.
Approx. Aug 1, 2021
But…But…. FLorida is somewhere in the middle, says World-O-Meter or somewhere else – or someone else. If that is the extent of your inquiry then it is unlikely you wish to learn more. The COVID situation is incredibly complex and requires vast numbers of inputs, both in data and the social sciences, to gain even a basic perspective.
For the many who don’t care to read and/or understand, the summary of why Florida is the worst of the worst would look something like this:
- It’s not the hand dealt – it’s what you DO with the hand you are dealt.
- Population matters – with 21+ Million people, what happens in FL affects vastly more of us than what happens in Utah.
- Mobility matters- In addition to population, 120 MILLION visits are made to Florida – many of them undefined in terms of length (seasonal residents, 2nd and 3rd homes). This effectively means that Florida cannot be walled off from the rest of the USA – and what happens in Florida will always spread…to a degree
- Personal Behavior AND leadership matter – Leaders who try hard (MI, OH, etc.) cannot force an ignorant population to behave properly. It takes a combination of good or decent leadership and good behavior.
The first “Big Picture” item for folks to realize is that the entire US did terribly with the COVID Pandemic. Many lives could have been saved, as the final death count will be at least 1 million. After leaving the White House COVID team, Dr. Birx stated that ALL deaths after the first surge (1st 100,000) could have been mitigated. Long into the Pandemic the White House had projected only 100K death – a figure eventually raised to 200K. It was never considered that a certain percentage of Americans would have a Death Wish and refuse to cooperate with even basic public health behaviors. This is NOT a matter of “lockdowns or not”, rather a matter of preening around as if the Virus didn’t exist (the Hoax narrative).
Make no mistake about it. The single largest blame/fault lies with the White House during the last administration. Many of the actions are well known – we won’t repeat or lay them all out. However, suffice it to be said that the White House did not act in the interest of the People of the United States. They did not lead – or, put another way, they led in the wrong direction.
This caused, or allowed, the public who had such tendencies to follow along with this selfish and non-caring attitude. Such behavior was 90% plus exhibited on the Right Side of the Aisle (politically) and continues to be so. Society, and Adults by extension, are impressionable and subject to peer pressure much like children. When the POTUS and your preacher and your friends all take something for granted (a Hoax, fill the Pews by Easter), many people will go along even though they do not have the real information (the truth).
Since I like to take a centered and common-sense approach to novel situations, I use a number which is double that of Dr. Birx. That is, my take is that 200K should have been approx death toll from COVID-19 and that the other 800K were largely preventable. An exact number is not important since the saving of 100K or 300K lives are both so large that the mind numbs trying to compare. We don’t want to fall into the trap of “every life matters” – because in a large analysis this is not the case. It is a truism that many COVID victims were extremely sick and very late in life. There was no possible avoidance of all excess deaths, however vast amounts of money, trouble and suffering could have been saved (some still can be!).
There IS a bottom in Florida – not as much so in some other places.
A certain percentage of Floridians, maybe even a majority, protected themselves and others. These people – by and large – survived the pandemic. Given the mobility of the more well-off (they can leave the state for their other home, etc.) if things are bad enough. Since many Floridians are retired, the capability of many to stay at home exceed that of more balanced working populations.
This ties in with a certain self-selection. Some have noted that Florida has an elder population. Actually, many states are catching up and even exceeding Florida in the very oldest (80+). The reason is simple – those who have less wealth and social mobility have to stay in place. The multi-generational family who lives in a dense place like NYC has no option to move to Florida – and such families often have elders with the typical conditions (diabetes, etc.) which further limit their mobility. Many Floridians, like myself and my spouse, self-select as much healthier elders due to our ability to afford moving and living – AND, taking part in sports and other active lifestyles requires that same level of health. The point here is – that while Florida may contain elders, a significant portion of them have options (such as not using Public Transit, etc.) that are not available to their Northern counterparts or those that cannot afford two houses, etc.
The 95% Metric
Adding to the “luck” of Florida w.COVID was that the 1st surge of COVID missed Florida almost completely. This was due to the lack of travel between Florida and Asia/Europe as compared to other states. COVID was brought into the USA mostly by air – and a few airports represent an outsized share of these specific travelers. These airports are JFK, Newark, Boston and Philadelphia on the east coast, Chicago in the Midwest and San Francisco/Seattle/LA on the west coast. Florida thereby escapes mass infection “from all sides” in the first waves. It is likely that the Florida initial cases (very light numbers) were from Cruises (international crew!) as well as some travelers from the Northeast who had unknowingly been infected by the European returnees. The “cancelling” of Spring Break and docking of Cruise Ships in FL in 2020 ended up exporting most of the first surge – Cruise Ships were allowed to dock and the passengers shuttled right to Ft Lauderdale airport…with no testing or tracing…to go back and infect their home states. At some point the Fed. Government limited the number of airports where foreign flights could land – none of these airports were in Florida.
Only 5% of Florida infections and deaths happened prior to June, 2020 – meaning that 95% have happened after the 1st surge and after we already had testing and treatment. This realization is what should change the minds of those clinging to the “Florida did middling” narrative. Just the testing and treatment alone – being available – reduced the COVID Mortality Rate from 6% to less than 2%. Putting this another way, if Florida had been unlucky enough to get the first surge (due to international travel and no testing and treatment), the 2.7 million infections in the state would have resulted in 180,000 resident deaths (plus deaths exported to other states) as opposed to 1/3rd that amount which is more likely the case (60,000+). Obviously, decisions of the Gov. of Florida and behavior of the population have nothing to do with the discovery of treatment protocols and the production of testing chemicals and kits. It was happenstance (luck) that allowed for Florida never to experience the terrible 5-7% mortality seen in many early situations.
Florida Failed using the Gov. own Words and Goals
Gov. Desantis and his spokespeople repeat the same thing – no matter what happens! They continue to rely on the “luck” of having months of warning as if that casts a light on leadership. It does not. This where “what is done w/hand dealt” comes in. The decisions of Florida effectively started with the Gov. decision to partially open against his own written plan – at the end of May, 2020. The Chart from Florida DOH (Dept. of Health) below shows what happened immediately after his first real decisions (and since).
This is a chart that cannot be denied nor misinterpreted. The state has experienced Mass Infection almost from the exact day the Gov. become involved w/managing COVID. As a comparison, a NE state that experienced the first surge heavily might have a chart that looks like below – a heavy surge when no testing or treatment or tracing was available and an immediate decline to near-normal as soon as the behavior and leadership kicked in
The Florida June/July/August cases were incredibly high – the result of DeSantis and his cohorts not believing in the Virus (Hoax, overblown) and acting as well as legislating accordingly.
Not content to let people and local cities and counties be responsible for themselves, DeSantis made it against the law STATEWIDE to require masks. Put another way, he became the Best Friend of the Virus and did everything he could to make sure the population of Florida did not practice basic health.
But But But – The Economy!
The excuse used by DeSantis and the pro-infection crowd was that “the economy” was more important than lives of our elders. The Lt. Gov. of Texas said it outright – he would “give his life” so his kids and grandkids could go shopping more. This same ideal was promoted in Florida. The facts show, however, that this was short term thinking and – as usual – resulted in the opposite effect claimed. Let’s look at a few metrics which give us some idea of the harm done to the economy of Florida by NOT beating the Virus as soon as possible.
If one listens to the Pro-Infection crowd they’d think Florida is BOOMING – doing amazingly well, But the truth is that Florida would be bankrupt or worse without the injection of 10’s of Billions in Free Federal Money. The money was supposed to help beat COVID – but much was just put into the General Fund. When the Gov. tossed out his Vax plan or his re-opening plan he “saved money” but “cost lives”.
Florida Tax Revenues were down in 2020 while many so-called “lockdown” states were up. California declared a 75 BILLION dollar budget surplus – an unheard of number in 2020. Meantime, Florida continues to be a “taker” which uses 4X as many Federal Dollars as they produce.
My opinion is that Florida pursuers a Lose-Lose-Lose strategy w/COVID as well as a shift of risk from the State to the Federal Government, other taxpayers and other States (exporting of COVID). Florida might make $500 “profit” from a tourist, but when that family goes back to NY or NJ and starts a chain of infection, the cost to us all is vastly more than the small amount made.
But it gets worse! Even with risk shifting (offloading of responsibility – costing others). Florida tourism is WAY down….not just in 2020, which would be expected, but in 2021. It is actually lower still than it was a year back (which was low!). Banks and experts agree that it may be many years before Florida Tourism recovers to what it was in 2018….then many MORE years until it enters where it would be with normal 3% yearly growth from that date onward.
Many have claimed they will never go back to Florida – some with the caveat that they will never return while DeSantis is Gov. This is not due to his being a member of the GOP – the same people would gladly visit MA. or OH. or many other states with Republican leaders. It is simply due to his callous disregard for human life and basic public health. As it stood even before COVID, Florida was rated at the very bottom of the states when it came to various health care metrics. One can only imagine where it is now.
Why would DeSantis follow policies which ruin the state? Why could he disinvite virtually every source of money (except Free Federal Grants) to Florida? He has specifically chased out tech, liberals, democrats, new yorkers and many other groups – calling them by name and telling them not to come to Florida unless they changed into a Human more similar to him!
The truth is he is not a leader. He has zero executive experience and would not be able to run Florida even if he wasn’t ignorant of Public Health and the very basics of Germ Theory. It’s yet another example (GWB, Trump) of elevating people to positions that they have no business being in.
Whether re-elected or not, DeSantis will leave Florida in a terrible long term position. Pollution, traffic, crime, over-development and disease are ravaging what is left of “natural” Florida. When a tourist comes twice over 5 years and both times has Red Tide making it so they can’t go near the Beach, they are unlikely to be excited to return.
Florida COULD BE a great place. It’s not written in stone that it must become an over-populated polluted and crime-ridden Corrupt Narco (and Oligarch) corner of the USA. However, that is the narrative currently winning out. There is, unfortunately, a lot of truth to the “Florida Man” and Carl Hiassen comedy narrative of Florida – that it contains large numbers of people who do crazy things – many of whom are in positions of power.
You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink. Even the citizens of Florida have shown enlightenment in their votes on Bond Issues – only to have them squashed by the Gov. when no one was looking.
Opinion, of Course!
It goes without saying that this article represents an opinion – although it is one held by many in Florida and elsewhere. We could argue that, for example, SD or ND or LA are worse when it comes to COVID – but these places lack the population size, the mobility and therefore the influence on the rest of these United States. The take presented above takes into account that Florida is very important – in everything from disease control to Federal Elections. It is in this light that Florida becomes the worst of the worst.
To whom great power is given, great things are expected. Florida needs to set examples as opposed to being a joke or the laughing stock of the world.
Strange, but true, Thoughts
The final cost of the failed COVID Response – in the USA – will total approx. 20 TRILLION dollars. based on population, Florida will cost well over a Trillion Dollars. If we “play pretend” for a moment and say that Florida decided to pull in the economy for a FULL YEAR to squash COVID down to way less than 1% – and then did Vax correctly – what would the cost be? For a round number, let’s guess we cut the economy by 50% for that year. The cost for that would be approx 1/2 a Trillion dollars.
Put another way, we could have paid the entire state budget in full PLUS made sure every citizen and business was made 100% whole in terms of their former income for well less than 1/2 of what it is going to end up costing us now! In addition, we’d have saved 50,000 or more lives and endless suffering AND been able to restart the economy at a much higher level – say 90% of what it was for the 2nd year and 100% (plus growth) in the 3rd year.
But the “Florida Way” was to force low-wage workers back to non-living wage jobs…where they could be easily infected and infect more.
Sometimes you have to think outside the box. Spending double the money for a situation vastly worse than what could have been is not a good deal.
If we allocated money this way, we could have offered States the balance “free” – so Florida would have an extra 400 Billion or so if they handled it properly. This is 4 years of the full state budget – imagine how much this money could do to fight Red Tide and to improve Floridans environment, education and health care? Used properly, it would catapult Florida into the top tier of states in most all categories which are measurements of civilization.