ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – It’s easy to find out how many confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus there are in Orange County, how many people have died due to COVID-19 complications and how many people have been hospitalized, but there’s a reason health officials aren’t reporting the number of patients who have recovered from the illness.
Orange County Health Officer Dr. Raul Pino said it’s because the only number officials could provide likely wouldn’t be accurate.
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According to the latest numbers from the Florida Department of Health, there are 1,251 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Orange County. Of those cases, 192 patients have been hospitalized and 27 have resulted in death.
Pino said there is a calculation you could use given the data already known to estimate how many have recovered but there are a lot of variables that could throw off the accuracy of the number you’d get.
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“If we subtract the number of deaths and if we subtract the number of people who acquired the disease more than 14 days ago, then we could have an approximation to what that number is and it’s going to be probably close to, I would say, 600,” Pino said in a news conference on Wednesday.
He said an exact number can’t be given because coronavirus cases in Orange County aren’t tracked from beginning to end.
“We don’t follow individuals through the evolution of the disease. We follow those who are hospitalized. We can see it electronically and also those who get discharged,” Pino said.
He also said the number of estimated recoveries you’d get using that calculation could be thrown off when you crunch the numbers.
Since the numbers from a couple of weeks ago would be from the time the county’s curve was on its way up, they will be bigger than the numbers used to reflect now in the calculation since Orange County leaders believe the area has peaked and numbers are not increasing at the rate they were a earlier this month, according to Pino.
He said some patients who recently died from COVID-19 may have contracted the virus early in the pandemic and were hospitalized since, which would also throw off the data.
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Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said it’s also important to remember that the patients in the hospital are those that are extremely sick, and not everyone who has the coronavirus is affected the same way. The number of confirmed cases also only accounts for those who have been tested. It’s possible that residents who have not been tested could have the virus, which is why testing is so important for the most accurate data, Demings said.
Because of all the uncertainty, Pino said medical professionals tend to avoid recovery numbers.
“We in public health tend to not use that number because it can give a false sense of safety," Pino said.