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Opinion: Why The New Case Numbers Will Mislead You

By Stephen Diener  July 12th, 2020

If you’re only paying attention to the daily case count of new coronavirus positives, than you are sadly not getting the whole picture.

The headline that grabbed everyone’s attention earlier today reported a one day record of 15,300 new cases of Covid-19 in the state of Florida. And to make matters more panic inducing, that number was not only a state record, but it was a record high number for any state in the country since the pandemic began.

But that was it, that’s where the story began and ended. The headline was fed to you and the fear set in.

Is it unsettling to see over 15,000 new cases of coronavirus? Yes, of course it is. No matter how it’s spun, it’s still over 15,000 positives. But, the fact of the matter is, that number is only one piece of the pie and without the rest, you simply are not getting the whole picture.

Here’s some of the very important information that most likely was not reported to you in the news.

This is your warning, there’s about to be a lot of numbers thrown your way, but they are important numbers, so stick with me.

For one, those 15,300 cases we spoke about earlier were indeed a new one day record, but what was not told to you in that salacious headline was that those positives resulted from the 142,981 tests done in one day. That was a new state record by almost 50,000 tests, beating the old record of 95,335 reported on July 9th.

Think about that for a second, let’s round that number up to 143,000, and realize that when you do the math of 15,300 positive results, that nets you with an 11.25 positivity rate.

And then realize that just so happens to be the lowest rate of positives in over two weeks.

Also take into account something else that doesn’t get talked about in these scary headlines that they like to pass off as news. And that is the recovery rate.

Yes, we have lost way too many to this hellacious virus, but the fact of the matter is the recovery rate is at least over 98%. That is not me trying to “down play the virus,’ that is a statistical fact.

And lastly, one more thing to remember during these very uncertain times, the “new” cases that get reported everyday are not exactly new.

It is a little known fact that when new cases are counted for the daily report, the results of those who have already received a prior positive test are added in to the new cases if they test positive once again.

Keep in mind, anyone who tests positive must always get retested until the result comes back negative before they can return to their daily normal lives. That means that there are thousands of people out there who are getting retested. And what happens when they come back with a positive result for the second or even third time?

Yep, you guessed it. They get added into the “new” case count.

So, you can see now how important it is to be given all of the information instead of just one number in a headline.

And that’s what we’re here for.