Pos­i­tively bad trend

An an­a­lyt­i­cal team at FSU has tracked the COVID 19 num­bers in Hills­bor­ough County. What they found isn’t pretty.

Tampa Bay Times - - PERSPECTIV­E - Kim­berly Gras­sett is an in­tern with the Florida Re­sources and En­vi­ron­men­tal Anal­y­sis Cen­ter at Florida State Univer­sity.

As Hills­bor­ough County recorded a record-high 40 deaths on Thurs­day, the team at the Florida Re­sources and En­vi­ron­men­tal Anal­y­sis Cen­ter at Florida State Univer­sity has been at­tempt­ing to ex­plain Florida’s spike in coronaviru­s cases, specif­i­cally in Hills­bor­ough. This graph tracks new COVID-19 cases in Hills­bor­ough ac­cord­ing to the date a per­son’s test came back pos­i­tive.

The num­ber of new cases per day stayed be­low 100 un­til around May 30 and then things took a turn. The num­ber of new cases be­gan to rise, which is con­sis­tent with sev­eral ma­jor events hap­pen­ing shortly be­fore that date. On May 18, Florida be­gan the full Phase One re­open­ing. About one week af­ter Phase One be­gan, many flocked to the beaches for Me­mo­rial Day week­end. The Mon­day af­ter Me­mo­rial Day week­end, Ge­orge Floyd’s death rocked the na­tion and re­sulted in protests and some ri­ot­ing within the city of Tampa.

It’s dif­fi­cult to say whether or not a sin­gu­lar event con­trib­utes sig­nif­i­cantly to the rise in cases. It’s pos­si­ble that a se­ries of events led to large gath­er­ings in close spa­ces, and each one con­trib­uted slightly to the ini­tial in­crease. These smaller in­creases would stack to­gether around sim­i­lar time frames and lead to large clus­ters in pos­i­tive cases. Ad­di­tion­ally, re­port­ing of cases can be de­layed by sev­eral fac­tors. Peo­ple who are get­ting tested may have waited un­til they are symp­to­matic to sched­ule a test and it may take any­where from four to 14 days to show symp­toms. It could take any­where from 24 hours to five days to re­ceive re­sults. That means there could be as much as a three-week lag on re­ported cases, which makes it dif­fi­cult for sci­en­tists to de­ter­mine the true cause of the in­crease in in­fec­tions.

The trends across the state are alarm­ing. It is im­por­tant to con­tinue so­cial dis­tanc­ing and fol­low­ing CDC guide­lines, es­pe­cially in ar­eas such as Hills­bor­ough that have ris­ing in­fec­tion rates.

KIM­BERLY GRAS­SETT

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