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US Southern States COVID19 Cases – Let’s Give Credit Where Due

The number of new COVID 19 cases has been falling in the Northeast, but the South is not having the same experience. The number of new cases per day in each Southern state has been rangebound for the past month.

And that’s assuming that the numbers haven’t been manipulated. We know that in Georgia’s case at least, they have been. And there are suspicions about Florida as well, as the State now engages in a smear campaign against the fired employee who built its much praised COVID19 database and dashboard.

The charts below show the total number of cases normalized by population on a cases per 100,000 basis.

To avoid crimping the scale of the chart below for the bulk of the states, I have plotted Louisiana separately.

Texas (blue line) started slow but has been accelerating. It has caught up with South Carolina. The two lines are now at the same point on the graph.

Charts Source: Cases US Southern States

Louisiana had a huge early surge due to Mardi Gras. Since reaching 450 cases per 100,000 its growth rate has been similar to Mississippi’s. Seen another way, Mississippi’s case growth has mirrored Louisiana’s post Mardi Gras surge. 

I wondered why Mississippi has caught up with Louisiana’s case growth rate. The answer may lie in the fact that Missippians have gone back to shopping and recreational activities more than Lousianans have.

Florida is middle of the pack in terms of total cases per capital. I wondered why it has done better than some states. The answer, again, appears to be that Floridians stayed home. Retail, restaurant, and recreation facilities were allowed to reopen at reduced capacities on May 4 in all but Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties. They reopened May 18. Google mobility reports show Floridians going to retail stores or recreation sites remained down 33% from normal levels as of May 20.

The next biggest difference is Louisiana, which is down only 26%, then Texas, down 23%. The remaining southern states are down less than that, with Mississippi down only 8%.

Florida has the highest percentage of retirees and elderly people of any state in the US. As the highest risk group, it’s understandable that they are staying home more.

Governor DeSantis takes credit for Florida’s better than expected performance in the numbers of COVID19 cases and deaths. Perhaps he should give the credit to Florida’s elderly, decrepit, cautious citizens living on death’s door, like me. We know how to respect a good pandemic when we see one.

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