Coronavirus Florida: 13 charts that show virus’ danger to Sunshine State

Staff Writer
Walton Sun
Walton Sun

In just 33 days, Florida has seen COVID-19, the deadly virus devastating lives across the globe, rise from two confirmed cases on March 1 to 9,008 Thursday evening.

The Florida Department of Health has been publicly releasing reports each morning and night with more detailed information about confirmed cases, deaths and testing.

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The following charts will be updated after each nightly report.

Florida confirmed more than 1,000 new cases each of the last three days, with 932 new cases every day on average over the last week.

One way to look at Florida’s outbreak is to use a statistical method called a logarithmic scale. On a chart that uses a logarithmic scale, we can more easily track how quickly a measure is doubling.

In some cases, even though a number is growing faster, the rate of growth is slowing. For example, going from 100 cases to 200 cases would mean the rate of growth is doubling every day. Going from 8,000 to 9,000 cases, even though the number of new cases is higher, is a slower growth rate.

With an infectious disease like COVID-19, it’s important to know if the rate of growth is slowing down.

In the below chart, we see that the exponential growth of Florida’s confirmed coronavirus cases hit its fastest rate a few weeks ago, when it was doubling about every two days.

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While the growth rate has slowed slightly, over the last month, the number of confirmed cases doubled every three days on average.

It has since slowed down. Over the last week, it doubled every five days.

One possible reason for the rapid growth is that the number of test results has been growing each day.

That testing is growing even faster in South Florida where the outbreak is most severe so far in Florida. The below chart shows how many tests have had results reported back to the state so far. There are many more pending results as of Sunday night that aren’t included. As the state begins using rapid testing kits that can detect results within 45 minutes the delay in getting results should shrink.

Another way to think about testing is to look at how many tests come back positive. When a higher percent of tests are coming back positive, that might mean a county is testing more widely. South Florida has both the highest number of cases and the most people tested.

In some of the worst-hit parts of the country, positive rates are even higher than South Florida’s rates. In New York City, for example, more than a quarter of tests have come back positive.

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High positivity rates, experts say, make it hard to determine how widespread the virus actually is, particularly among asymptomatic carriers.

In Duval County, we see that as the city of Jacksonville has continued expanding eligibility, the positive rate has been falling. Yet in South Florida, the positive rate remains high.

Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties remain the hardest hit counties, but the growth in each county isn’t the same.

So far, only four counties have had at least 12 days since hitting 10 cases, Duval, Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and Broward.

Duval’s much slower growth rate is an anomaly compared to the others.

Miami-Dade is still nearly doubling every two days, while Broward and Palm Beach have begun to slow down.

The logarithmic chart below measures all counties since they got their 10th confirmed cases.

Orange County, though it is a week behind Broward, is following Broward’s trajectory closely, while Palm Beach, though it’s five days behind Broward, actually has more cases than Broward did 12 days after hitting 10 cases.

Another important factor, experts say, is to not look at too small of a geographic area when comparing cases. People tend to interact with their metro area more than just a confined city or county. This is particularly noticeable in South Florida, but we’re starting to see some of the spread across I-4 in Central Florida, too.

So far, there have been 60 deaths in Florida, and while Northeast Florida doesn’t have as many cases as other parts of the state, this is one area where the First Coast is suffering in particular.

Past epidemics tell us that we’re not likely to actually know how deadly a disease is until much later. So far, we’re only counting laboratory-confirmed deaths, but later, we’ll realize some people dying from complications due to coronavirus aren’t being tested and confirmed.

Still, we’re seeing a shocking rise in the number of deaths in Florida.

One of the major concerns with a disease like COVID-19 is that the rate of hospitalizations and deaths will continue growing until hospitals are out of intensive-care beds, which will overwhelm healthcare providers.

If you have any questions or other data you want the Times-Union to look at as we track the coronavirus outbreak, please email me at