Florida undercounting COVID-19 deaths, study suggests

Study says mortality is ‘significantly greater’ than what’s reported

A medical worker checks on a screen a patient' lung affected with the COVID-19 in the Amiens Picardie hospital Tuesday, March 30, 2021 in Amiens, 160 km (100 miles) north of Paris. The number of patients in intensive care in France on Monday surpassed the worst point of the country's last coronavirus surge in the autumn of 2020, another indicator of how a renewed crush of infections is bearing down on French hospitals. (AP Photo/Francois Mori) (Francois Mori, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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.”

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The researchers compared estimated and recorded death data during the pandemic, News 6 partner Local 10 News reports.

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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About the Author:

Layron Livingston made the move from Ohio's Miami Valley to Miami, Florida, to join the Local 10 News team.