What COVID-19 testing data tells us about the virus

Florida Coronavirus News

Dr. Diana Pacheco explains to a patient that she will collect nasal and throat swabs, during walk-up COVID-19 testing in a mobile diagnostic tent, in San Gregorio Atlapulco in the Xochimilco district of Mexico City, Friday, July 24, 2020. The capital’s health secretariat has erected mobile testing units in the areas of the city hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, but only a limited numbers of testing kits are available each day.(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — The Florida Department of Health in Bay County announced 378 new cases on COVID-19 as well as one new death on Saturday. About three months into re-opening due to the novel coronavirus, data collected from DOH-Bay between May 4 and July 25 reveals trends on how the virus is affecting Bay County.

Government data breaks down the population of Bay County into four age groups: 0 to 4; 5 to 18; 19 to 64; and 65 and over. The 19- to 64-year-old age group is the largest age group in years and so naturally makes up the largest percentage of the population, which is 50.4%. 

Data from the Florida Department of Health in Bay County shows that the age demographic of 15- to 64-year-olds makes up 84.7% of the positive cases in July.

Data broken down further by age group shows that the most affected age group is 25- to 34-year-olds followed by 35- to 44-year-olds and 45- to 54-year-olds. 

While many young people remain asymptomatic, experts say that young people are less likely to comply with social distancing guidelines or self-quarantining, and are more eager to go back to how things were before the pandemic. 

Early predictions about who COVID-19 may affect the most said the virus would affect the elderly. While infections may be most prevalent in younger and middle-aged people, deaths occur mostly in people above 75 years old. Reports of deaths from DOH-Bay have shown over half of the deaths were men or women ages 75 and over. DOH-Bay reported at least five deaths of men or women in their 40s or 50s.

Experts say young people are still at risk. Since many young people can contract the virus and remain asymptomatic, experts say it is more likely to spread among this group. There is also a higher risk that they will pass it to someone who is more vulnerable to complications.

Data from DOH-Bay also shows an exponential rise in new cases per day since Phase 1 of re-opening began in Florida. Health officials say the rise in cases is due to the increase in the availability of and ability to test. But data also shows the number of hospitalizations on a daily basis rising in correlation with the number of new daily cases. 

While COVID-19 testing has increased, the accuracy of both the nose and oral tests are still unknown. Experts say it takes about 14 days for the virus to develop enough inside the body for a test to detect it, and so being tested before that point may produce a false negative. And, the Atlantic reported that it is unclear how accurate tests are for those who have not developed symptoms at the time of testing.

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