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White House coronavirus advisor Andy Slavitt was perplexed when asked to explain why California and Florida, which have very different methods of combating the virus, have similar infection trends.
Florida even has a lower infection rate than California and better numbers overall, despite the fact that California has implemented sweeping quarantines, and its counterpart remains open and with few restrictions.
In an interview, Slavitt said the virus was still very unpredictable and “a little beyond our explanation.”
California has become one of the strictest states in the nation, with governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, shutting down businesses and schools. His administration said it was implementing these measures based on counties’ ICU capacity.
Meanwhile, Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has taken a completely different approach. Although he took similar steps to Newsom’s early in the pandemic, he ultimately lifted restrictions on the economy statewide and prohibited law enforcement from ticketing individuals.
Despite the dramatic policy differences, the results have not differed that much.
In addition, a new study by The New York Times shows that about 512,000 more people have died since March than would have died in a normal year, or about 20% more than normal.
“What we do know is that the more careful people are, and the faster we get vaccinated, the faster it goes away and the less it spreads,” Slavitt said.
He noted that new variants make COVID-19 harder to predict. “We don’t know what role they play. This is a virus that continues to surprise us. It’s very difficult to predict. And across the country, we need to continue to do a better job.”
California has reported a total of 3.5 million cases of COVID-19 overall, while Florida has reported more than 1.82 million, Johns Hopkins University data show.
That means the total number of cases as a percentage of the population is about 8.8% in California and 8.3% in Florida.
Of the Californians who tested positive for COVID-19, about 1.35% died, while about 1.57% died in Florida, the data show.
Over the past seven days, Florida has recorded 322 cases and 7.4 deaths per million people, while California has recorded 231 cases and 10.5 deaths per million people. In terms of hospitalizations, Florida has 218 per million people, while California has 244.