White House COVID-19 adviser Andy Slavitt appeared stumped Wednesday when asked on MSNBC to explain California and Florida’s similar COVID-19 trends, despite having wildly different responses to the pandemic.
Slavitt said the virus was still very unpredictable and “a little bit beyond our explanation.”
“What we do know is that the more careful people are, the more they mask and social distance. And the quicker we vaccinate, the quicker it goes away and the less it spreads,” Slavitt said, noting that variants make it harder to predict.
“As we all have learned … this is a virus that continues to surprise us. It’s very hard to predict. And all around the country, we’ve got to continue to do a better job, and I think we are, but we’re done yet.”
California has emerged as one of the strictest states in the nation, with Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, shutting down businesses and schools. His administration said it was implementing these measures based on counties’ ICU capacity.
Meanwhile, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has taken an entirely different approach. Though he took similar measures to Newsom early on in the pandemic, he eventually lifted statewide restrictions on the economy and prohibited law enforcement from fining people.
Despite their differences in policies, either state has shown similar COVID-19 trends – even accounting for the population difference.
Data from Johns Hopkins University shows California has reported nearly 3.5 million COVID-19 cases in total, while Florida has reported more than 1.82 million.
California’s total number of COVID-19 cases as a percentage of the population is about 8.8%, while Florida’s is about 8.3%. Out of all of the people in California who have gotten COVID-19, about 1.35% have died, while in Florida, it’s about 1.57%, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Over the past seven days, Florida has recorded 322 cases and 7.4 deaths per million people, while California has recorded 231 cases and 10.5 deaths per million people. In terms of hospitalizations, Florida has 218 per million people, while California has 244.