State Watch

New research questions Florida’s COVID-19 death toll

A study published this month says that Florida has underreported its coronavirus deaths by thousands of cases.

As Yahoo News reported Tuesday, the study published in the American Journal of Public Health states that the impact of the pandemic in Florida “is significantly greater than the official COVID-19 data suggest.”

Researchers came to their conclusions by comparing the estimated deaths in the state from March to September and compared that figure to the actual number of recorded deaths, or the “excess deaths.”

“I am sure that COVID-19 is responsible for most of these excess deaths,” Moosa Tatar, public health economist at the University of Utah and lead researcher of the study, told Yahoo News. Tatar said he decided to focus on Florida because of how swiftly Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) lifted COVID-19 restrictions in the state.

According to Tatar’s study, nearly 5,000 deaths should have been included among the listed COVID-19 fatalities, but were instead attributed to other causes.

DeSantis recently shot down a suggestion from President Biden that states may need to reinstate COVID-19 restrictions as cases rise again, calling the idea “insane.”

“That’s not gonna happen in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said during a press conference. “We’re gonna continue doing what works, but under no circumstances would we entertain anything of the sort.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), meanwhile, has come under fire for his administration’s policies that resulted in nursing home deaths due to COVID-19 being severely undercounted. The mishandling of the nursing home death figures led many state lawmakers to call for Cuomo to resign.

Tatar’s findings have not been fully accepted by other researchers, Yahoo notes. Lauren Rossen, statistician at the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told the outlet that she did not see anything particularly suspicious in Florida’s excess deaths. 

“Florida doesn’t stand out to me,” Rossen said.

The Hill has reached out to DeSantis’s office for comment.

According to the CDC, Florida has confirmed more than 33,000 deaths due to COVID-19 and more than 2 million cases of the coronavirus. Some 9.4 million coronavirus vaccine doses have been administered in the state.

Tags Andrew Cuomo Coronavirus COVID-19 deaths COVID-19 pandemic Florida Joe Biden Ron DeSantis
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