Explainer: Here’s how News 6 is reporting COVID-19 data

With lack of Florida DOH daily reports, federal health care agencies continue to provide important data

Florida's latest COVID-19 data on Aug. 6, 2021. (Florida Department of Health)

Midway through the second year of the coronavirus pandemic, the state of Florida ceased its daily COVID-19 reports and took down its interactive dashboard. The state Department of Health now releases COVID-19 information once a week on Friday evenings but in a much more condensed form without much of the available data that was once included in the state dashboard.

Due to these reporting changes, News 6 and ClickOrlando.com, and most news outlets, have changed the way they’re covering the data available from Florida and federal resources. Using available data collected by health care providers and reported to state and federal agencies continues to be the best way to cover the coronavirus pandemic.

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For much of 2020, the Florida Department of Health issued daily coronavirus reports that included new case totals, deaths, hospitalizations and the positivity rate. The state also maintained a visual version of this data in the form of an interactive dashboard. The state Agency for Health Care Administration had its own dashboard that showed the number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations. The live dashboard also included how many hospital beds and ICU beds were available, known as capacity. Both the DOH and AHCA dashboards included breakdowns by county.

In early June 2021, the state removed the COVID-19 data dashboard and the AHCA took down the hospitalization information. As of June 3, the weekly COVID-19 reports issued by the Florida DOH no longer provide a breakdown of county-by-county deaths or hospitalizations.

As coronavirus vaccine rollout began in Florida in December, the state began releasing a daily report on COVID-19 vaccines administered throughout the state. In the now-weekly reports, the state is combining the vaccination data with the COVID-19 infection numbers.

The Florida DOH is also no longer providing county numbers for non-residents who have tested positive, causing the total case numbers to drop significantly, in some counties by more than 1,000 cases. For example, with non-resident positive cases as of June 3, Orange County had reported a total of 143,198 but with the state’s new reporting method, the county has 141,941 total cases, a difference of 1,257 positive cases.

Below is a look at the most recent state COVID-19 data:

Here’s an example of a recent coronavirus article with the latest state data and here is an example of a COVID-19 article with the more robust available data from 2020.

Even though the DOH is no longer releasing the hospitalizations and more details, the state is still required to report information regularly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hospitals also report COVID-19 information to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which maintains a COVID-19 dashboard. The Florida Hospital Association is also providing weekly COVID-19 hospital updates. Here is an example from Aug. 3.

To make up for the loss of state-provided coronavirus information, News 6 is now utilizing federally available information, including the HHS hospital bed dashboard to report Florida hospital numbers. Below is a look at the News 6 dashboard on COVID-19 hospitalizations:

News 6 has also requested data individually from Central Florida counties but has been redirected to the state DOH, which is in charge of releasing that information.

Every Friday evening, ClickOrlando.com posts a new breakdown of the latest COVID-19 data with information from the state and federal health care databases that can be found at ClickOrlando.com/coronavirus.