If Hospitalizations Lead Fatalities: Prospects for Florida

With large shares of populations vaccinated, case counts are no longer a good predictor of fatalities arising from Covid-19. Hospitalization might prove better (and ICU hospitalizations even better). The statistics do not augur well, particularly for Florida.

Source: GS CovidTracker, August 2, 2021.

Obviously, Florida remains a big problem when you consider its 21 million population, and that it accounts for 5.1% of US GDP (as of 2019Q4). For comparison, California, as the economically largest state, accounted 14.8%.

Here is IHME’s latest fatalities forecasts, from July 30.

Source: IHME, July 30th forecast.

The IHME forecast presented above was not included in the July 26th CDC ensemble forecast. At the time of the CDC ensemble forecast compilation, IHME’s forecast was above the ensemble forecast, but not at the very top.

Source: CDC, July 26 ensemble forecast.

Since it’s hard to see, here’s a detail.

Source: CDC, July 26 ensemble forecast.

The IHME forecast available as of 7/26 was for about 1000 fatalities per week, compared to the ensemble forecast of a bit below 600. The IHME forecast was at the top of the 95% band. A new ensemble forecast should be released on 8/4.

It’s clear why Mr. De Santis wants to avoid the specter of Covid-19. The late summer and winter waves clearly slowed Florida’s recovery. Rising deaths might spur — if not additional public health measures such as mask mandates that the governor has banned — then increasing aversion by those who perceive risks associated with going about business as usual.

Figure 1: Florida Reported deaths due to Covid-19 (black, left log scale), nonfarm payroll employment, in 000’s, s.a. (teal, right log scale).  NBER defined recession dates shaded gray. July observation for deaths is IHME forecast.  Source: CDC, IHME, BLS, NBER, and author’s calculations.

I expect risk aversion to induce a reduction in consumption of high contact services. If mask mandates and other public health measures were imposed, that might lead to a greater short term reduction in economic output (although in the long run, total hours might be higher, as in the Eichenbaum pandemic/output model).

Any lessons to be gleaned from the past episodes? The employment losses thus far can be decomposed into two groups — the high contact services associated with leisure and hospitality services, and everything else covered in nonfarm payroll employment.

Figure 2: Florida employment relative to 2020M02 in leisure and hospitality services (blue bars), and in rest-of-nonfarm payroll employment (tan bars), in 000’s, s.a.  Source: BLS, and author’s calculations.

You can see that leisure and hospitality employment recovery stalls out in July-August 2020, and January 2021. If the rise in deaths occurs as forecasted in Figure 1, then

All this takes place in the context of already slowing growth, as far as we can tell (these indicators run only through June).

Figure 3: Florida Coincident index (black), real GDP (purple), and nonfarm payroll employment (teal), all in logs, 2019Q4=0. NBER defined recession dates shaded gray. Quarterly data for coincident index, employment converted from monthly to quarterly by averaging. Source: Philadelphia Fed, BEA, BLS, NBER, and author’s calculations.






46 thoughts on “If Hospitalizations Lead Fatalities: Prospects for Florida

  1. pgl

    “It’s clear why Mr. De Santis wants to avoid the specter of Covid-19.”

    Yes – he wants to be King Donald II. How did the citizens of Florida elect such a jerk as their governor?

      1. pgl

        Of course you cannot define what it is, which may be attributable to too much Faux News watching.

    1. Ulenspiegel

      “How did the citizens of Florida elect such a jerk as their governor?”

      At least the voters put their money/life where their mouth is…

  2. baffling

    it is simply baffling to me how governors such as desantis and abbot are creating legislation that bans masking and vaccination requirements. its almost like they actually want the death counts to rise.

    1. paddy kivlin

      observing population data locations w/ mandates no different than free to decide to wear a face diaper locations.

      tx and fl deaths per 100k have a huge leap to catch up with blue state north east whose delta jump is several months away despite the imported clusters…..

        1. pgl

          His statement was so garbled – something tells me that he had no idea what on earth he was writing.

      1. baffling

        how fair is it for an unvaccinated child to be placed in a room with a maskless covid carrier for 8 hours a day? they are given no opportunity to protect themselves, since these governors have eliminated mask mandates as well as online learning options. you really think one child wearing a mask for 8 hours in a classroom with maskless covid carriers is safe? it is an intentional ploy the governors want to use to argue the virus is safe. and some children are going to die as a result. you are a fool paddy.

  3. macroduck

    A good bit of recent press coverage of Covid focuses on break-through cases (Senator Graham, for instance) and reinfections. While making much of these phenomena makes sense as a business proposition – if it bleeds, it leads – I’m not sure there is a big surprise here, based on the numbers. Statistics on all approved vaccines indicate some level of infection despite vaccination; China’s Sinovax, a particularly worrying example, only preventing infection in 35% of people for some variants.

    In the “super-spreader” event in Provincetown, 469 people were found to have been infected so far, 90% with the Delta variant. About 2/3 of those infected were vaccinated. A figure which is less reported are that there were hundreds of thousands of people at the event. If 2/3 of those infected had been vaccinated and we assume they are a representative sample of attendees (most likely a poor assumption) the infection rate is not wildly different than suggested by effectiveness rates in the mid-90% range, just as advertised. If more than 2/3 of attendees were vaccinated, that would account for the low number of non-vaccinated among those infected, suggesting a higher infection rate among those who had been vaccinated, but still not different that what we already expected. Effectiveness in preventing infection, even for the best vaccines, runs only in the mid-70% range for some variants.

    What we see is that Delta is highly contagious (we knew that), vaccination does not confer 100% immunity (we knew that) and spending large amounts of time in close proximity to large numbers of people is a bad idea (we knew that).

    It is a big disappointment that infection and hospitalization rates are rising, but not a big surprise. We were warned. Masking and social distancing remain necessary to keep the pandemic contained.

    The numbers make clear that Florida’s political leadership is wrong. Throwing caution to the wind means throwing the most vulnerable to the wolves. It means more infections, more deaths and higher economic costs in general, even if not for bars and hotels.

    Provincetown and Florida are examples of what happens when you shove crowds of people together without taking stringent precautions to avoid transmission. Schools reopen soon.

    1. baffling

      “Schools reopen soon.”
      if we could get the cdc to act sooner on child vaccines, and a couple months pause on face to face (or enforce mask mandates as schools for a couple months), we could avoid a serious increase of cases this fall. but it seems that several governors want to make a point that infecting all those kids is not a problem. this has been one self inflicted wound after another.

    2. Moses Herzog

      I went out shopping today. Wore a mask. I have both Moderna shots. I do not wear it all the time in public, depends on context and what I personally deem as risky to myself, people I care about, or the society at large, which I also care about (to varying degrees). Warning: If you’re wearing a red MAGA dunce hat I might cough on you randomly or fake sneeze on you, just because I feel like it.

    3. Ulenspiegel

      “It is a big disappointment that infection and hospitalization rates are rising, but not a big surprise. ”

      If R is ~6 you need 5/6 of your population vaccinated to avoid an exponential growth, you are not there. Therefore, the exponential grow is indeed no surprise would even happen with 100% perfect jabs.

    4. paddy kivlin


      there is a two lane out to p’town, the town itself is a few hundred inhabitant somewhat morein summer. 100’s of k’s is not the stick on the tip of cape cod.

      you have a fierce inclination for npi’s that have failed every where.

      should obaomber canx his b’day party on martha’s?

      1. macroduck

        The summer population of Provincetown is “somewhat more” than a few hundred. It’s roughly 60,000. That’s 60,000 people who lay their heads on pillows. Day (night) visitors push that number higher. There is some turnover among the 60,000 in a long holiday weekend and high turnover among the day visitors.

        Cape Cod has on about 220,000 year-round residents, a number which doubles in the summer. All are able to hop over to Provincetown when the party gets going. Seriously, you think just claiming “hundreds” makes it true?

        I didn’t go and count, mind you, but reports of hundreds of thousands exposed during what I referred to as the Provincetown event seem to me far more credible than your, “mistaken claim” of a few hundred. But perhaps your objection is that nobody is able to prove which exposures occurred within the municipal limits and which were just down the road.

      2. Barkley Rosser


        Oh, you are listening to Fox News where they are trying to make a thing of Obama’s 60th birthday party? Not only will people need to prove they have been vaccinated to attend his totally outdoors party, but Martha’s Vineyard also currently has a low infection rate. You are just making yourself look silly bringing that up.

  4. ltr


    August 2, 2021

    ‘Freedom,’ Florida and the Delta Variant Disaster
    By Paul Krugman

    Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida, isn’t stupid. He is, however, ambitious and supremely cynical. So when he says things that sound stupid it’s worth asking why. And his recent statements on Covid-19 help us understand why so many Americans are still dying or getting severely ill from the disease.

    The background here is Florida’s unfolding public health catastrophe.

    We now have highly effective vaccines freely available to every American who is at least 12 years old. There has been a lot of hype about “breakthrough” infections associated with the Delta variant, but they remain rare, and serious illness among the vaccinated is rarer still. There is no good reason we should still be suffering severely from this pandemic.

    But Florida is in the grip of a Covid surge worse than it experienced before the vaccines. More than 10,000 Floridians are hospitalized, around 10 times the number in New York, which has about as many residents; an average of 58 Florida residents are dying each day, compared with six in New York. And the Florida hospital system is under extreme stress.

    There’s no mystery about why this has happened. At every stage of the pandemic DeSantis has effectively acted as an ally of the coronavirus, for example by issuing orders blocking businesses from requiring that their patrons show proof of vaccination and schools from requiring masks. More generally, he has helped create a state of mind in which vaccine skepticism flourishes and refusal to take precautions is normalized.

    One technical note: Florida’s vaccination rate is well below the rates in the Northeast, but closely matches the national average. But seniors are much more likely to be vaccinated than younger Americans, in Florida as elsewhere; and Florida, of course, has an unusually high number of seniors. Among younger groups the state lags behind the nation as a whole, and even further behind blue states.

    So, given these grim developments, one might have expected or at least hoped that DeSantis would reconsider his position. In fact, he has been making excuses — it’s all about the air-conditioning! He has been claiming that any new restrictions would have unacceptable costs for the economy — although Florida’s recent performance looks terrible if you place any value on human life.

    Above all, he has been playing the liberal-conspiracy-theory card, with fund-raising letters declaring that the “radical left” is “coming for your freedom.”

    So let’s talk about what the right means when it talks about “freedom.” Since the pandemic began, many conservatives have insisted that actions to limit the death toll — social distancing, wearing a mask and now getting vaccinated — should be matters of personal choice. Does that position make any sense?

    Well, driving drunk is also a personal choice. But almost everyone understands that it’s a personal choice that endangers others; 97 percent of the public considers driving while impaired by alcohol a serious problem. Why don’t we have the same kind of unanimity on refusing to get vaccinated, a choice that helps perpetuate the pandemic and puts others at risk?

    True, many people doubt the science; the link between vaccine refusal and Covid deaths is every bit as real as the link between D.U.I. and traffic deaths, but is less obvious to the naked eye. But why are people on the right so receptive to misinformation on this subject, and so angry about efforts to set the record straight?

    My answer is that when people on the right talk about “freedom” what they actually mean is closer to “defense of privilege” …

    1. paddy kivlin

      i insist on the privilege of my own personal risk analysis….

      and if i see the consumer risk of the vaccine greater than the benefits in my particular case i will deny the vaxx. my consumer risk adds the wealth of cautions portrayed in vaers as well as history of exposure to cov protein produced after effects.

      pk is misleading and likely missed the part in stat i on decisions under uncertainty.

      i come here to be exposed to pk… it is more harmful than going to daytona….

        1. Manfred

          I agree that PK is a negative externality on everything.
          But beyond that, a course in Econ 1 that includes “externalities” as Menzie says, will probably include the Coasian approach to externalities.
          But Coase taught at Chicago for a long time, so that it probably was not even mentioned in Berkeley.

          1. Menzie Chinn Post author

            Manfred: Pretty sure he was on the reading list for micro at Berkeley (didn’t take any environmental econ courses), and almost assuredly discussed at my classes at what you would call “the Kremlin on the Charles”.

        2. Manfred

          And not to speak of the fact that it was the Biden Harris team during the election campaign who expressed doubt about getting vaccinated.
          Kamala Harris, our currently so much appreciated Vice-President…, she explicitly said that if Donald Trump tells her to take the vaccine, *that should would expressly not take it*.
          But I understand, that is Kamala Harris (and Joe Biden) who are forgiven everything.
          Now that Joe and Kamala are Presidents, we have to do everything they say, right? Because of “externalities”.

          1. pgl

            OK – you have had your quota of lies for the month. Get a gig on the evening segments of Faux News.

      1. pgl

        You finally write something that is not pure gibberish. Of course it is pure intellectual garbage.

  5. SecondLook

    Read the political history of Latin America if you want to get a glimmer of the current dynamics in the United States.
    Caudillos are quite seductive for the strongly disaffected…

    1. Manfred

      “Caudillos are quite seductive for the strongly disaffected…”
      Oh yeah, AOC, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Andrew Cuomo, Emperor De Blasio, great caudillos, who lead their people brilliantly.
      And not to speak of Gavin Newsome.
      And of course, there is good old (yes, she is old) Nancy Pelosi, governing from her multi-million dollar mansion in San Francisco (I wonder, what kind of ice cream is she eating today?).
      And yes, good old Barack, who tomorrow is throwing himself a huge Obamapalooza with 500 guests and 200 servants (peasants?) on his 15 million-dollar seaside mansion on Martha’s Vineyard, with George Clooney and Steven Spielberg in attendance.
      All of these, great caudillos for the strongly disaffected.
      I wonder, is this lifestyle taught at a “school of public policy”?

      1. pgl

        What on earth has started this insane troll parade? Like we expect this garbage from THE MANFRED but it seems Paddy wants to date you. Have fun you two.

      2. pgl

        “what kind of ice cream is she eating today?”

        So if I eat premium ice cream – someone somewhere else gets this virus? Lord – you are even dumber than old Uncles Moses!

      3. SecondLook


        Do you really have any understanding of the history and meaning of the term “Caudillo”?
        Have you walked the killing fields?
        No reply, please. You already informed all of us more than enough about the revealed truth…

        1. Manfred

          Oh SecondLook, I know you do not want a response, but:
          I know *very well* what a Caudillo is. I was born south of the border, very south of the border.
          I have a much better idea than you about caudillos.
          BTW SecondLook, do you have any idea where the word “Caudillo” comes from?

          1. Barkley Rosser

            Its original meaning was “small head,” Manfred. What does that have to do with anything here? You are the one dragging the term into the discussion here, although Trump was clearly far more the wannabe caudillo than any of the people you have dropped the term on.

  6. rjs

    this doesn’t seem to be getting much press in the US:

    Israel’s public health chief says evidence points to waning COVID vaccine immunity – – Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis told CBS’ Face the Nation that a third of Israel’s population has not been covered, particularly Israel’s large population of non-vaccinated children. She added that 50 percent of the current infections are vaccinated individuals. “Previously we thought that fully vaccinated individuals are protected, but we now see that vaccine effectiveness is roughly 40 percent.”

    is that true for vaccinated individuals in the US? we have no way of knowing….

    CDC Scaled Back Hunt for Breakthrough Cases Just as the Delta Variant Grew​​​​​​ – The U.S. agency leading the fight against Covid-19 gave up a crucial surveillance tool tracking the effectiveness of vaccines just as a troublesome new variant of the virus was emerging. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stopped comprehensively tracking what are known as vaccine breakthrough cases in May, the consequences of that choice are only now beginning to show.

    1. pgl

      Getting the delta virus is not the same as dying from it. Effectiveness must consider both issues and it seems those in the break through cases are not requiring hospitalizations. But if I am told to get my 3rd Pfizer shot – I’m all in.

    2. Ulenspiegel

      Here the result of the last round of the REACT programme in UK where the delta variant rules (copied from the Guardian):

      “Double vaccinated people are three times less likely than unvaccinated people to test positive for coronavirus, according to the React-1 study.

      The study, a major Covid monitoring programme, led by scientists from Imperial College London are based on swab tests taken by almost 100,000 people in England between 24 June and 12 July.

      During this period, 0.63% of people were infected, or 1 in 158. This represents a four-fold rise compared with the study’s previous report, when 0.15% or 1 in 670 had the virus as of 7 June.

      The study’s analyses of PCR test results also suggest that fully vaccinated people may be less likely than unvaccinated people to pass the virus on to others, due to having a smaller viral load on average and therefore likely shedding less virus.”

      Vaccination helps a lot at many fronts. To oppose vaccination of healthy adults is stupid.

  7. Manfred

    Menzie mentions “externalities”, which is taught in Econ 1 courses, according to him…
    I wonder, are these externalities present in the Big Obamapalooza tomorrow, when Barack celebrates his 60th on Martha’s Vineyard with a huge splash?
    Barack is inviting 500 people and having 200 peasants, sorry, servants, so there will be a fair amount of people.
    And I wonder if somebody will blog about the possibilities of externalities on a small confined space like Martha’s Vineyard.
    And I wonder if such is part of a “school of public policy” curriculum. But I digress.
    I wonder if anybody mentioned “externalities” to Barack.
    Perhaps Jason Furman? Can somebody ask him? Jason was one of his Econ advisors. I wonder if Jason heard of “externalities” in an Econ 1 course. Jason teaches at Hahvahd. I am sure that Hahvahd heard of exteranalities. And probably of the Coase Theorem, too.
    Dunno about you, but I thought all of these were good questions, since Menzie is so worried about Florida and worried about us having heard about “externalities”.

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Manfred: What are the negative externalities of a gathering where (I am guessing) pretty much everybody will have been vaccinated, and outside, vs. one where vaccination rates are say 20% and in say a enclosed space?

      Next post will be on Louisiana, with also skyrocketing hospitalizations. Thanks for the idea.

      1. pgl

        Me thinks THE MANFRED is using the Tucker Carlson definition of externalities. Alas we are now feeding these trolls.

      2. Manfred

        Hey Menzie, don’t mention it. Yes, Louisiana is experiencing a surge, that’s right, under a Democrat governor’s watch, and under the Biden-Harris administration’s watch. But I know, that does not matter.
        Will you blog about Andrew Cuomo and nursing homes? They say that is interesting as well.
        How about California, and people being pissed at the governor there (including many Democrats)?
        Just giving you some more ideas.

        As for the Obamapalooza, thanks for clarifying that you are guessing, given that you are a hard data guy. But remember, the Palooza includes 200 peasants who will serve the champagne, the sandwiches, etc, who knows if they are all vaccinated. And these peasants will disappear into the general population and who know if and how much they will impose externalities.

        1. Barkley Rosser


          Menzie is not guessing. It has been widely reported, although apparently not on Fox News where they seem to be trying to make a big deal out of Obama’s birthday party while they pay no attention to Trump’s regular superspreadere events that have clearly killed know people like the late Herman Cain.

          Anyway, indeed, nobody is getting into that party without proof of vaccination and it is all outdoors, as well as Matha’s Vineyard having a low infection rate. This is just silly. But go ahead and tell us how Trump’s rallies have you upset also.

    2. 2slugbaits

      Manfred Apparently you didn’t get the memo, but Obama cancelled that big birthday bash precisely out of a concern over it being a potential superspreader event despite stringent protocols. But nice try though. My advice is to turn off Fox Noise or One America Network or Newsmax or whatever garbage channel you regularly watch. Who knows, you might even become an informed citizen.

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