VENICE — “Uncontrolled spread.”
That’s the term experts used to describe the state of COVID-19 in the state of Florida on Thursday.
It describes states in which there are at least 350 new cases per million population per day, said Marta E. Wosinska, deputy director for Policy of the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy, in an online news conference.
The state’s rate was 493 new cases per million population Friday — worst in the nation, according to CovidExitStrategy.org.
States that are doing well are seeing about 10 new cases per 1 million population, she said.
The national average is 203 cases.
“These numbers are so dramatically different from what we’re seeing in Europe,” she said.
Italy, for example, is getting fewer than 4 new cases per million, she said.
Florida is also the “leader” in hospitalizations, she said, and is one of the states in which the death toll is catching up with the number of cases that have been reported.
Christopher Adolph, of Covid19StatePolicy.org, said he and his colleagues at the University of Washington have been tracking state policy responses to the pandemic since mid-March.
They characterize orders regarding masks as Level 1 — narrow, perhaps applying just to public transit; Level 2 — indoors; and Level 3 — indoors, and outdoors when near others.
Right now, 30 states are at Level 2 or 3 and of them, 22 have Democratic governors; 18 of the 20 states without a mandate have a GOP governor.
A number of states in the northeast implemented a mask requirement early and they tend to be the states in the best shape right now, Wasinka said.
With President Donald Trump having worn a mask recently and referred to the practice as patriotic, GOP governors should follow his lead and put a mask requirement in place, Adolph said.
Florida is a trouble spot for hospitals and schools as well, said Cyrus Shahpar, a director of Resolve to Save Lives, a health nonprofit led by Dr. Tom Frieden, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If the state’s experience tracks with what happened in New York, it will have high bed occupancy for four to six weeks, perhaps eight weeks, he said.
And with so much virus in the state, he said, it’s bound to get into the schools.
Schools in other part of the world have reopened without triggering outbreaks but no country opened schools with a rate of new cases in the hundreds of cases per million, he said.
A recent study from South Korea shows that younger children are less likely to spread the virus than older ones but “no matter what, schools are not a zero-risk environment,” he said.
“They’re going to have a problem,” he said.