Florida claims its low number of cases of coronavirus, but California has fared better in the pandemic

Last week, Florida boasted a COVID-19 case rate that was lower than California’s – in fact among the lowest in the country, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It was a surprising development given Governor Ron DeSantis’ much public opposition for vaccine mandates and non-pharmaceutical interventions such as wearing masks.

Some partisans were quick to jump on the news as proof that broad public health measures are unnecessary to stop the pandemic. But the number of cases is only part of the picture of the impact COVID-19 has had on society – and data show that Floridians have slightly more coronavirus than residents of most other states.

Since the onset of the coronavirus crisis, Florida has counted 277 deaths for every 100,000 inhabitants – the seventh highest rate in the country, according to data from the CDC. By comparison, California has had 180 deaths per year. 100,000 people, still a tragic loss, but a measure of the state’s relative success in fighting the disease. California’s cumulative death rate is number 36 on a list that includes all 50 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia and Guam.

The gap was not always so great. In March 2021, Florida’s mortality rate per per capita to California, ranked 27th in the country, while California was 28. Sunshine State was also slightly ahead of California in terms of vaccinations at the time, with about 11.6% of the people fully vaccinated against 10.5% in California.

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