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COVID-19 fatality rate is still dropping rapidly in Florida

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

This is an update of the information in our July 10, July 15, and July 24 articles on this topic. The graph above shows that even with the deaths through July 30 added to the data, the death rate for people who tested positive for COVID in June or early July was much lower than it was in April.

There has been a great deal of concern about rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in Florida, but the real question is whether these cases translate into correspondingly large numbers of deaths; as we’ll show below, this is unlikely because people who get sick now are far less likely to suffer adverse consequences than they were in April or May.

We used Florida’s case line data (July 30 update), which does not exaggerate the number of cases because it includes one line per person. It also shows whether or not that person was hospitalized or passed away (but not the date of either). Using this data allows a comparison of cases to deaths without worrying about a specific lag time for the disease process. The graphs include the entire state instead of Alachua County because the county didn’t have enough COVID-19 deaths over that period to make the data meaningful.

The graphs below show the percentage of daily cases that later died, regardless of death date (i.e., the graph shows the percentage of people who tested positive on each date who later died). The overall rate has dropped dramatically since the start of May. The 65+ rate has been dropping since mid-April and started dropping even faster after May 27. Note that these graphs stop with people who tested positive on July 15, allowing two weeks for the cases to resolve.

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This table shows how the overall average COVID-19 death rate has dropped by 73%, from 6.53% in April to 1.78% in June (up from 1.44% in the July 15 update); the death rate for those over 65 has dropped by nearly half, from 20.67% to 11.25%; and the death rate for people under 65 has dropped by 68%, from 1.38% to 0.44%.

All65+<65
Apr6.53%20.67%1.38%
May5.16%18.95%0.85%
Jun1.78%11.25%0.44%
Jul (1-15)0.99%6.62%0.22%

The following graphs show how the case fatality rate has changed since the beginning of April for all cases, for people over 65, and for people under 65.

To emphasize how much lower the case fatality rates are, the graph below shows the case fatality rate by age using data from the July 30 update. Compared to the July 10 update, the CFR for those 85+ is 2.86 percentage points lower (19.64% vs. 22.50%). The CFR for those 75-84 is 1.44 percentage points lower 9.73% vs. 11.17%).

To put that highest risk group (85+) into perspective, according to the Social Security Administration’s Actuarial Life Table, the probability of anyone 85+ passing in the next 12 months is 13% (females) to 15% (males). So COVID-19 only increases the mortality risk by 4-6 percentage points if they contract the virus.

For each age below 60, the Actuarial Life Table has a higher probability of death (for males) than the COVID-19 CFR. The same is true for each age over 94.

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