Comparing the deaths over the last two weeks in New York and Florida from the coronavirus show very different trends (See graph below). The data shows that ten days into the crisis for both states, New York reported 385 deaths while Florida reported 71 deaths.
This trend has mostly been overlooked in media reports that have hypothesized that Florida might be the next epicenter for the coronavirus.
Why does this difference exist?
The graph below compares the total number of deaths for each state beginning at Day 1. Day 1 is the day when the 12th death was reported for each state. For New York the 12th death was reported on March 17th and for Florida this day was March 21st.
Therefore, there is a four day lag in the comparison. Days 11, 12, 13, & 14 are in the future for Florida and are “in the books” for New York.
The graph shows that after Day 6, the number of deaths in New York began to increase at a much higher rate than in Florida. This trend has continued up to Day 10.
At Day 10, highlighted on the graph below, New York reported more than 5 times the deaths than were reported in Florida after the same number of “Days” since the 12th death for each state. New York reported 385 deaths while Florida reported 71 deaths.
Why is this happening in two states that have roughly the same population?
An article written by Brian Rosenthal and published on March 23rd in the New York Times, provided a rationale for the difference in these death trends.
The article, titled “Density is New York City’s ‘Enemy’ in the Coronavirus Fight”, provided evidence that indicates that population density and temperature could be the driving factors in the spread of the coronavirus.
Dr. Steven Goodman, an epidemiologist at Stanford University, told Rosenthal that “Density is really an enemy in a situation like this. With large population centers, where people are interacting with more people all of the time, that’s where it’s going to spread the fastest.”
New York City, the current epicenter of the coronavirus, has an a population of approximately 9 million and a population density of 28,000 people per square mile.
The current hot spot in Florida is Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. These three counties have a combined population density of 1,155 people per square mile, approximately 4% of the population density of New York City.
But here is the stat that indicates that population density may be a factor in explaining the difference between New York and Florida.
The deaths per million of people in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade at Day 10 was 4.3. In New York City the deaths per million at Day 10 was 42.3 or 10 times higher than the three Florida counties.
In addition, the article indicates that another factoring impacting how the coronavirus spreads is weather. The report states that researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that “regions with average temperatures above 64.4 degrees Fahrenheit account for fewer than 6 percent of global cases so far.”
The average temperature in Florida is 71.8 and in New York the average temperature is 48.2.
At this point in the coronavirus crisis, a comparison of deaths between New York and Florida show two very different trends. It appears that population density and climate may play a role in these differences.
What does the future hold for Florida? As has been written many times before, no one will really know until more information becomes available.
So we all wait for answers to these questions:
Will population density and climate factors impact the total number of deaths between New York and Florida? Will these factors continue to give Florida more time to “flatten the curve?” Or, will the impact of these factors just delay the inevitable appearance of the New York trend in Florida?