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Such Numbers Without Context Are Misleading

Content Director, News4 Jacksonville

Sir or Madam:

Travis Gibson reports rises in the absolute numbers of hospitalized patients in Florida – rises due principally to the Delta variant afflicting unvaccinated Floridians (“Florida hospital CEOs tell DeSantis what they are seeing during latest COVID-19 spike,” August 4). Without context, these numbers might be alarming.

But a competent reporter gives context, which Mr. Gibson doesn’t here do. So let me help.

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Project Public Data Hub, as of today (August 5th) 15.85 percent of all hospital beds in Florida for inpatients remain unoccupied, and 11.32 percent of ICU beds remain unoccupied. While these numbers tell us little about the future – or about the situation at any particular medical-care facility – they do help to calm fears created by the possible misimpression that the Delta variant is now causing Florida’s hospitals to be generally overrun with patients.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030