The corporate media has been harsh toward Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The urge to sensationalize every story coming from Florida in the least charitable manner possible overcomes objectivity when the controversial governor is involved. Florida’s recent decision to modify COVID case reporting by the state is a great case study in “journalistic” advocacy.
Florida is now reporting by counting deaths on the date they occur rather than on the date health care providers report them. The move will normalize the curve depicting total deaths while maintaining the same accurate total number of deaths over time.
When deaths are counted by the date reported, there are typically significant weekend gaps and spikes at the beginning of workweeks when data gets dumped from more than one day. The media now pretends to be outraged because they can no longer point at the “data dump” days in isolation to cast Florida numbers in a false light.
Florida has also started reporting through weekly death totals rather than daily reports. This method of reporting is the usual way that respiratory diseases such as seasonal flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are handled. Using consistent reporting methods across all conditions also provides more valuable data for health departments and care providers.
The rise in COVID-19 cases is comparable to a summer surge in RSV, for example. The CDC has previously cautioned providers about the possibility of such a spike in COVID, not even taking the Delta variant into account. Winter lockdowns have likely caused higher summer susceptibility to viral disease because of lower exposure among infants and toddlers.
Florida’s integration of COVID management with other respiratory diseases facilitates more accurate and effective responses and control. Weekly reporting based on the date of death may help distinguish between deaths caused by COVID and deaths “with” COVID.
Even though the reporting process contemplated by Florida will likely help get COVID numbers under control, we can anticipate the media to continue reporting with shock about any changes made by the state that result in results that contradict the favored narrative.