ICYMI, the COVID-19 metrics changed dramatically in June. According to the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr Deborah Birx, an early indicator of an outbreak is a sharp rise in the “Test Positive” metric. That is, a rise in the percentage of COVID-19 tests coming back positive. Test Positive is a key metric used in managing and controlling infectious disease because it compensates for changes in testing volume. It is included in our BocaFirst COVID-19 tracker. For Palm Beach County, a steady rise began June 3.
But, other Palm Beach County COVID-19 metrics also shifted in new directions in June; namely, the number of cases and average age. However, hospitalizations and fatalities did not shift. Much has been said and written about it. A dominant point in the discussion is that the effect of COVID-19 is different now than when it emerged in March. So we took a step back, downloaded all the case data from the Florida Department of Health ( you can download it here) and did a comparison of March-May vs June.
COVID-19 Metrics for Palm Beach County at a Glance
NOTE: Hospitalizations and deaths lag from the date of infection. The FDOH data does not provide hospitalization or death dates for each case. It does provide the date the test was taken and is the closest approximation of infection that is available. Therefore, the true number of hospitalizations and deaths from the June infections is not yet known.But the large shift in cases counts, case hospitalizations and case deaths between March/May and June could mean a difference this time.
At the moment, the data for Palm Beach County follows the notion that things are different now than March-May. According to medical experts, treatment is better and the younger average age is resulting in a lower severity of COVID illness in hospitals and ICU. In the excerpt from a June 28 press conference in Texas below, Dr Birx explains the details of how things are different now and what must be done going forward:
One can only hope
For now, the spread in Palm Beach County and Florida has largely been in the under 50 demographic. Our age analysis of the data showed 75% of cases in the week ending June 27 were under age 55. Those in that demographic with co-morbidities need to protect themselves the same way as the older demographic seems to have been able to do. But that is not enough. We are all part of a biological system. Each of us can be a link in a chain that the virus travels to a vulnerable person. We need to be in this together. Our long term freedom depends on short term sacrifice. Secretary Dr Ben Carson said it well: