Florida Governor Ron DeSantis often boasts that his state fared better than most during the pandemic, despite remaining open for business and without a mask mandate.
But the relatively low per capita death toll in the state may exceed the official figures.
A recent study suggested that between March and September last year, the state saw more than 19,000 “ additional deaths ” – or 15 percent more than would be expected in a normal year.
Of those, 14,317 deaths were attributed to COVID-19, leaving nearly 5,000 deaths ‘unexplained’.
If these were caused by Covid, that would mean that instead of the 33,338 deaths currently listed on the state health service website, the Florida death toll is closer to 50,000.
It’s impossible to know how many of these overly mysterious deaths were caused by COVID-19, and how much the pandemic could have indirectly caused, as a result of a done deal.
It wouldn’t be the first time Florida has come under scrutiny for being less than transparent in its COVID-19 data.
It’s worth noting, however, that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that “ excess deaths ” last year were about 20 percent higher than the annual average nationwide, with Covid deaths undervalued in all states.
According to the report’s authors, nearly 5,000 of the excessive deaths in Florida between March and September last year were “unexplained.”
Florida’s excess deaths (purple) peaked particularly high between June and September, but at other times the national average (blue) has risen well above Florida’s.
According to data from Becker’s Hospital Review, Florida is ranked 27th in the country for its per capita death toll.
And it may come as a surprise that Florida, which has approached the pandemic open all day, has not seen more fatalities.
At this point, numerous modeling studies have suggested that earlier lockdowns and more widespread mask wear would have prevented countless Covid deaths.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis often boasts that his state has fared better than most during the pandemic, despite remaining open for business and without a mask mandate
But Florida’s mediocre rank for deaths per capita seems to go against that, just as the outspoken governor has ignored the recommendations of CDC experts.
“I see a sad turn of events in many parts of our country: schools are closing, businesses are being closed and lives are being destroyed,” Republican Governor DeSantis said in a March 2 State of the State address.
“While so many other states continued to incarcerate people, Florida was lifting people.”
But Florida is still the state with the fourth highest death toll and the second largest population in the US.
California – with which Florida is often likened to being an antipode in pandemic strategy – is the most populous state in the union and has the highest Covid death toll in the country with more than 59,000 deaths.
It ranks two places below Florida for the number of fatalities per capita.
On the other hand, the number of deaths per capita in California rose 43 percent last week, while it fell 36 percent in Florida, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
However, all of this assumes that a COVID-19 death is counted the same way everywhere.
And unfortunately that is not the case.
In fact, in the early months of the pandemic, this Florida issue became a scandal.
Nationally, the vast majority of additional deaths – exceeding the annual mean (orange line) – were caused by COVID-19 (blue), but a small proportion are not attributed to the infection (green, above the orange line)
Each state saw more deaths in 2020, ranging from just a handful in Hawaii to more than 60,000 in California
In April – when the death toll at Covid was hundreds, not thousands, or hundreds of thousands still alarming – the Tampa Bay Times found that the toll calculated by the Florida Medical Examiners Commission was about 10 percent higher than the official state record.
The Tampa Bay Times estimated that at least 40 deaths were missing from the official census.
At the time, medical inspectors – who were appointed by the governor – were required to certify every death, leaving a significant backlog in the death count.
Plus, while the medical researchers counted all the deaths caused by COVID-19, the health department included only the deaths of Florida residents in the count.
The health department then withheld the list, claiming it needed to be revised and redacted before it could be made public, according to the Times.
Delays in when COVID-19 deaths occurred and when they were reported by Florida masked the pandemic’s real-time toll
Finally, in August, a rule was passed that would no longer require medical researchers to certify Covid deaths.
And similar gaffes plagued the states’ positivity and number of cases, raising even more suspicion about how well the state’s lax restrictions really kept COVID-19 in check.
These loose rules were the reason the author of the recent report wanted to investigate the excessive deaths in Florida, but his conclusions do not confirm foul play.
The approximately 5,000 additional deaths “were directly or indirectly associated with COVID-19,” lead investigator Moosa Tatar, a public health researcher at the University of Nebraska and the University of Utah, told DailyMail.com.
But I haven’t compared Florida to other states, there could be additional deaths for other states.
Florida was one of the first states to relax these restrictions … it was just my intention to get a clear picture of the impact of COVID-19 on the [excess] deaths. ‘
In fact, the CDC’s excess death data shows a “ predicted ” number of deaths from all causes and from COVID-19.
And in most states, there were more deaths than in a normal year during any given period of the pandemic, including some not believed to have been directly caused by COVID-19.