Florida undercounting COVID-19 deaths, study suggests

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – The number of Floridians dead from COVID-19 is approaching 34,000 according to the state, but a recent study by the American Journal of Public Health suggests that the number is actually much higher.

“Total deaths are significantly higher than historical trends in Florida even when accounting for COVID-19-related deaths,” the study concluded. “The impact of COVID-19 on mortality is significantly greater than the official COVID-19 data suggest.”

The researchers compared estimated and recorded death data during the pandemic.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday that the state’s health department is releasing ample and accurate information.

“We have the most data than any state,” he said. “They’re releasing stuff. And they’re putting it out there.”

DeSantis wasn’t responding to a question specifically about the American Journal of Public Health report, which was published earlier this month.

Local 10 News has sent his office and the state health department a request for comment about those findings of undercounted deaths.

Meanwhile, infectious disease experts are tracking a rising number of COVID-19 variant cases in Florida. The state has far more variant cases than any other in the country, according to the CDC.

With that in mind, doctors worry that spring break could be the breaking point for a fourth wave of the coronavirus.

“It’s a challenge,” said Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease specialist at Florida International University. “It’s between us getting more and more people vaccinated, versus these variants popping up and becoming able to overwhelm protection that people have.”

Eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccines expands to all adults in Florida on Monday.


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