Coronavirus infections and death counts don’t always add up in FL

Novel coronavirus SARS CoV2, which causes COVID-19. Microphotography by National Institute on Allergy and Infectious Diseases

The Florida Department of Health Wednesday evening reported 7,773 COVID-19 infections across the vast majority of counties in Florida, but is that correct?

The number came from a news release from the department and a lengthy daily report that shows the number of cases by county.

But another important tool, called the COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard, shows lower numbers by a few hundred. Those lowers numbers remained different from the 7,773 figure through Thursday morning.

The Phoenix reviewed the dashboard data and saw differences county by county.

Charlotte County showed 26 infections in one part of the dashboard, but 24 case in another part. Hernando County had 28 cases in one place, but 24 cases in another.

Manatee listed 70 cases, but 58 cases in another part of the dashboard. Osceola listed 140 cases, but 115 elsewhere on the dashboard.

Those are just some examples.

The Phoenix has closely been following the data, and in the past the numbers from the daily report and the dashboard have matched.

In terms of the death cases, the department reported 101 deaths Wednesday evening, for the first time hitting the 100-mark in the death toll in Florida.

In that list, a Broward death case has disappeared. It was the case of a man, age 70, who had traveled in Brazil and Florida. The state health department counted the death on March 22 and the death was published for the public on March 27.

But that case was no longer listed Wednesday evening.

The Phoenix reported earlier that some death cases have not been reported to the public for several days and even up to two weeks, data show.

The state health department posts the date when a death is “counted,” but that’s not the same as when a death is made public in the COVID-19 data.

Getting a full and accurate count of deaths is important because it provides a full picture of the COVID-19 crisis. In Florida, tracking the data is overseen by the Florida Department of Health, Surgeon General Scott Rivkees and ultimately, Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The 101 death cases show that Palm Beach County continues to show the highest number of deaths, 22, followed by Broward, 14, which the Phoenix is including as the 70-year-old male traveler who has disappeared in the list of deaths.

Death cases in other counties include Miami-Dade, 11; Lee, 10; Clay and Pinellas, 5, and Duval and Orange, 4, according to the state health department data.

In all, 23 counties have posted at least one death case, a little more than a third of Florida’s 67 counties.