Florida COVID-19 deaths expected to peak in early May

A University of Washington researcher cited by the White House expects COVID-19 deaths in Florida to peak at around 136 deaths per day in the first week of May.

Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine, expects Florida will have enough regular hospital beds to meet a peak demand of 13,232 beds, but will fall short by 297 beds for intensive care units. He expects the state will need 1,992 ICU beds at the peak, but will have 1,695 available. (See chart at end of story.)

Projection of total deaths in Florida

The institute  projects that the total number of deaths would continue to climb in Florida throughout May.

“Our estimated trajectory of COVID-19 deaths assumes continued and uninterrupted vigilance by the general public, hospital and health workers, and government agencies,” Murray said in a press release. “The trajectory of the pandemic will change—and dramatically for the worse—if people ease up on social distancing or relax with other precautions. We encourage everyone to adhere to those precautions to help save lives.”

The Miami Herald reports that Ali Mokdad, a professor at the institute, told Florida officials they should shut down everything. Until now, though, Gov. Ron DeSantis has taken a measured approach with strong restrictions in South Florida, but less so in the rest of the state.

On Monday, the governor initially said he wanted a stay at home policy in South Florida until mid-May, but then said he misspoke and meant mid-April.

IHME’s analysis, based on observed death rates, estimates that over the next four months in the US, approximately 81,000 people will die from the virus. Estimates range between 38,000 and 162,000 US deaths.

 President Donald Trump’s decision to extend social distancing guidelines until April 30 came after officials reviewed 12 different statistical models,  CNN reported. Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator mentioned the IHME projections as confirming the other projections.

Adding to the scenario is a warning from Kinsa, which makes smart thermometers, that there was a spike in fever readings in Florida about a week ago.

“The level of illness we’re seeing in Florida is [two times] what we would have expected,” Kinsa CEO Inder Singh told BuisinessInsider.com on March 25. “That’s very high, and it appears that it continues to grow. So, presumably, that’s COVID 19. Presumably.”

In a March 31 interview with CNBC, Singh said the correlation between the fever spikes and COVID-19 outbreaks has been high nationally. The lag time between the fever spikes and COVID-19 case numbers being identified appears to be weeks since testing is not widespread.

He is particularly concerned about Florida because of its elderly population and amount of underserved residents.

The company’s healthweather.us map shows high levels of atypical illness in South Florida compared with most locations in Florida and the United States in general. However, clicking on the trend button shows the amount of illness decreasing in South Florida.

Aggressive social distancing can help flatten the curve and keep people alive, Singh says.



Projection for Florida hospital usage during the pandemic


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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky



Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.