About the Coronavirus Pandemic (Updated July 31, 2020)
The coronavirus pandemic has affected all aspects of our lives, and club social activities are no exception. We are monitoring the situation continuously for current Florida-specific information and are taking action to adjust to this new reality. In response, we have canceled or postponed some upcoming events. Now, the most recent in-person event is scheduled for September. We hope by that time, the situation will improve such that it will be safe to proceed while enacting continued social distancing measures.
As social interactions resume, considerate and responsible individuals should maintain practical, yet sensible, social distancing actions as part of the new "normal." This requirement will likely remain for many months.
In the meantime, until we resume in-person social events, we continue to host virtual activities and video conferencing to exchange Tesla and club-related information. We have had a number of virtual events.
All the events were a lot of fun and involved sharing Tesla experiences and information in a casual and relaxed atmosphere.
I remain in communication with Tesla Corporate and local Tesla leaders. We plan to continue to work with Tesla to host additional Virtual events in the future. Stay tuned for details.
These Virtual Meetups will be open to club members only. If you are not a member and would like to join us for virtual activities, please click on the Join Us link above.
We are also organizing In-Car activities. These activities involve meeting for parades and scenic drives. Participants are instructed to remain in their cars during the club portion of the events to maintain safety. For example, we participated in a drive-by Tesla parade for a surprise birthday party celebration. We are also organizing scenic drives where we gather at a location such as a Supercharger Station and then travel as a silent caravan to a point of interest.
Registering for Upcoming Events
We still have several exciting events coming up, but some will have limited space. Regardless of the coronavirus, if you are interested in an upcoming event, we encourage you to register early to ensure that you can attend. Please be assured that when we resume in-person events, we will institute the appropriate measures to ensure the health and safety of our members and guests.
If we have to cancel or postpone an event due to the coronavirus, we will refund your payments if the event requires advance payment. In other words, you won't be incurring a financial risk by registering early.
When Will We Resume In-Person Social Events?
Short Answer: We are making preparations to resume in-person activities for late September. However, the recent resurgence of infections may put that event in jeopardy if effective statewide mitigation measures are not implemented. If current trends persist we won't be able to resume in-person activities until next year.
For inquiring minds, please read the long answer below. It describes the chronology of federal and Florida policies governing social interaction as well as developments in predictive computer models.
On March 31, 2020, the president announced that the White House was extending its social distance guidelines through the end of April. That decision was based on computer models that projected the peak in country-wide fatalities would arrive in two weeks.
Dr. Deborah Birx, Coronavirus task force coordinator, explains a leading model that the White House is using to assist in predicting the course of the virus.
Below is the graph presented by Dr. Deborah Birx, Coronavirus task force coordinator, during the March 31st White House press conference. This model by the University of Washington estimated the number of deaths in the United States based on data available at the time. Dr. Birx explained that "It is this model that we are looking at now that provides us the most detail of the time course that is possible."
Source: White House March 31, 2020 Briefing Presentation slide #2.
Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). COVID-19 Projections. Seattle, WA: IHME, University of Washington, 2020. Available from https://covid19.healthdata.org/projections. Dr. Christopher J.L. Murray, Institute Director.
On April 1, 2020, Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-91, directing all Floridians to limit movements and personal interactions outside the home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities. He had previously closed Educational Facilities. This order went into effect on April 3, 2020, for 30 days.
Based on these policies, on April 30, the IHME model for Florida predicted that the infection rate would drop to 1 per million people by June 22, 2020. It assumed that the four social distancing measures initially implemented statewide in April would remain in place until June 22, 2020. Those social distancing measures were 1) Mass gathering restrictions, 2) Initial business closure, 3) Educational facilities closed, and 4) Stay at home order.
On April 16, 2020, the White House unveiled voluntary guidelines for state officials to begin to reopen their economies. The guidelines explicitly state that such measures would be at each governors' discretion. The recommendations call for a three-phase approach, but before proceeding, it proposes that the states satisfy specific "Gating Criteria." The criteria require a downward trajectory of flu symptoms and COVID-like cases over a 14-day period, or a downward trajectory in positive tests over a 14-day period. For hospitals, it requires the ability to treat all patients without crisis care, and a testing program needs to be in place for at-risk healthcare workers.
The proposed White House Gating Criteria is not consistent with the assumptions in the IHME model. The IHME model provides estimates of when infections drop to 1 per 1 million people. At that point, the health experts that created the model believe that it may be possible to relax social distancing, provided Containment Strategies are in place. The White House's optional gating criterion accepts a higher risk of virus reappearance because it doesn't require the reduction of infection rates to such low levels as the model. To minimize the risk of a resurgence, the model presumes the enactment of robust containment strategies that include universal testing, contact tracing, isolation, and limiting gathering size.
On April 26, 2020, the Governor announced that effective May 4, 2020, that Executive Order 20-91, with its "stay at home" directive, would expire and be superseded by a new Executive Order 20-112. The new order implements the First Phase of a plan to reopen the Florida economy. In summary, the initial Phase 1 permits restaurants to open with social distancing and indoor occupancy at no more than 25% capacity. Outdoor dining is permitted with social distancing and seating of no more than ten people. In-store retail, museums, and libraries may open at no more than 25% of occupancy. Medical services, elective surgery, and dental services are permitted. Educational facilities and all other businesses remain closed as per the previous executive order.
It should be noted that the April 30 version of the IHME model assumed stricter social distancing than provided in the Governor's executive order. Specifically, it assumed that the stay at home order would remain in effect. After May 4 that was no longer the case.
On April 30, 2020, the IHME model projected that the country-wide peak had occurred on April 15, 2020. (At the time the model assumed that collectively the individual states would have adequate mitigation and containment measures in place to suppress a resurgence of the virus. That turned out not to be the case.)
On April 30, 2020, the White House announced that its social distance guidelines would expire on May 1, 2020, and it shifted to promoting its guidance to reopen state economies.
According to a Quinnipiac University poll released April 22, 2020, 72 percent of Florida voters said that Florida should not loosen social distancing rules by the end of April. This survey result suggests that a significant segment of the population may initially continue to stay at home despite the easing of restrictions by the Governor and the shift to promoting the reopening of state economies by the White House.
Major Upward Revision of IHME Model and White House Private Estimates
In retrospect, comparing past projections with new actual data demonstrates that the IHME model was overly optimistic. On May 4, 2020, the IHME staff implemented a major revision to its model. As mentioned earlier, the previous version of the model assumed that government-mandated social distancing measures would remain in place. With the widespread relaxing of stay at home orders, the model no longer makes that assumption. It now accounts for locations that have eased social distancing measures. To do that, it factors in mobility data received from cell phone operators to measure the level of social distancing. To reduce variability in projections, it now smooths the actual daily death rates over a longer period. Recognizing that people without symptoms are still carriers of the virus, the model now estimates the number of cases, including those not tested or showing symptoms. Cases are calculated using the known relationship between deaths and infections and are projected to the future using the estimated deaths.
On June 25, 2020, the IHME staff implemented another major revision that makes projections based on three scenarios. These scenarios are discussed in detail in the Florida section of this article.
Revised IHME Model for the Country
Below is the IHME forecast as of July 31, 2020, for daily deaths nationwide. The revisions in the IHME model result in country-wide death projections nearly double over their early estimates. The model currently forecasts a total of over 230,000 deaths by November 1, 2020.
It projects that daily deaths could increase to almost 1500 by November with continued easing of state restrictions. In contrast, with 95% of the population wearing masks in public, it estimates only 349 deaths per day by November. It’s most likely forecast is that by November there will be 745 daily deaths.
Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). COVID-19 Projections. Seattle, WA: IHME, University of Washington, 2020. Available from https://covid19.healthdata.org/projections (Accessed August 1, 2020). Dr. Christopher J.L. Murray, Institute Director.
Internal White House Projections
On May 4, the New York Times reported on and published an internal White House document that it had obtained that projected the death rate would nearly double by June. Below is one of the slides from the administration document. The critical thing to note is that this projection is not tailing off or declining as earlier models had predicted, but rather it shows a return to increasing exponential infection rates. (Note that the vertical scale is logarithmic.) Regarding this document, although a White House spokesperson made a statement to the effect that the data had not been vetted by the Coronavirus Task Force, no one disputes the fact that the internal document was produced by FEMA and CDC staff and not an anonymous source.
On May 18, 2020, the Governor announced "Full Phase 1." It further relaxed restrictions despite the periodic spiking of daily infections at the time.
Under Full Phase 1
Mobility information obtained from cell phone data later confirmed poll findings that a large number of Floridians significantly curtailed their movement. Mobility was down by 57% in early April consistent with the Governor's "stay at home" recommendation. However, even before the announcement of Phase 1 on May 4th, mobility had increased to 41% below normal. As of June 27th mobility had risen to 27% below normal, which is still down despite the relaxation of restrictions.
On June 3, 2020, the Governor announced at a public briefing that effective June 5, 2020, he was initiating Phase 2 for all counties except Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach.
Under phase two:
On June 22, 2020, the Florida Surgeon General issued an official Public Health Advisory recommending the following:
The advisory is not a requirement and imposes no penalties. These are merely recommendations, but they provide more guidance than the Governor’s current position, which is to defer to local governments.
The Surgeon General’s advisory is consistent with the opinion voiced by the Florida Medical Association, the state’s largest physicians group, who called on local officials to adopt regulations requiring face masks in public places.
On June 24, 2020, the CDC conducted a telebriefing for reporters concerning COVID-19.
CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield took questions from the media. Reporter Helen Branswell with STAT, asked a question concerning getting mixed messages about the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Below is an excerpt of some of Dr. Redfield’s response:
Marilynn Marchionne with Associated Press pursued this subject further asking:
About the new estimate that was just released, that 20 million Americans had been infected, would that mean about 6% of the population has been infected, and doesn’t that mean the vast majority remain susceptible?
Note: the current number of Americans tested and confirmed to have coronavirus at the time was about 2 million, so the CDC’s estimate of ten untested infections for every tested infection puts the then current number of infected Americans at about 20 million. If 20 million Americans were infected, then that represents about 6% of the total population.
Below is an excerpt of some of Dr. Redfield’s response:
Note: At the risk of pointing out the obvious, Dr. Redfield is confirming that between about 92% to 95% of the total US population remains susceptible to getting infected and about 20 million are already infected whether they know it or not.
Also, on June 24, 2020, the Democratic Florida Members of Congress sent a letter to Governor DeSantis. It urged him to implement an immediate statewide order requiring that all individuals wear a mask while in public to fight the spread of COVID-19.
At a press conference on June 26, 2020, in referring to the proposed mask mandate, Governor DeSantis was quoted as saying,
However, as of June 30, 2020, Florida Politics reports the following Florida counties and cities have enacted various forms of face mask ordinances despite the lack of a statewide order.
On June 26, 2020, after infections soared 55% overnight to 8,933 daily cases, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation announced that it was suspending on-premises consumption of alcohol at bars statewide.
Estimating the Number of Untested People Infected
On June 26, 2020, the CDC released the data supporting the comments made by Dr. Redfield at the telebriefing.
The CDC surveyed areas of the country to estimate the untested population that was unknowingly infected with the coronavirus. This estimate was based on surveys taken in six states, including Florida, over the period from late March to early May. The CDC’s current estimation is that collectively there are about ten untested infections for every tested infection.
To develop this finding, the CDC worked with commercial laboratories from Connecticut, South Florida, the New York City metro area, Missouri, Utah, and Western Washington State. The surveys included people who had blood specimens tested for reasons unrelated to COVID-19, such as cholesterol screening, etc. These blood samples were then also tested for COVID-19 antibodies.
For Florida, 1742 samples were collected from Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Martin Counties from April 6 to 10, and 1.85% tested positive for antibodies. 1.85% of the population of those counties represents about 117,400 untested people who were infected with the virus. During that period, 10,500 people were tested and confirmed positive for those counties. Therefore, at that time, there were 11 untested infections for every tested case in Florida for those counties.
The CDC plans to continue to collect samples from 10 sites throughout the country every 3-4 weeks to monitor how the untested infection rate changes over time for each area.
Opening of Schools
On July 6, 2020, the president tweeted, "SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!" The following day, he was quoted as saying, "We're very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools." However, senior White House administration officials said later on a background call with reporters that the decision to reopen public schools remains a local one.
On July 6, 2020, Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran issued an executive order stating that all brick and mortar schools should reopen in August. This action was taken even though, as recently as July 3, 2020, the number of new daily confirmed infections reached an all-time high that exceeded 11,400 cases. Under this emergency order, all public schools would reopen for at least five days a week and provide the full array of services required by law, including in-person instruction. However, the order states:
Despite the strong tone of the executive order, the above clause cedes authority back to local school boards. Therefore, theoretically local school boards are still free to keep schools closed if warranted, but threats to withhold funding if children do not return to in-person instruction could influence their ultimate decisions.
This order is also subject to advice and orders of the Florida Department of Health, local departments of health, and subsequent executive orders from the governor.
Also, on July 6, 2020, Jacob Oliva, Chancellor, Division of Public Schools, during a conference call with district leaders, stated that parents must have the option to return their children to school if health conditions allow. However, he mentioned that choice wouldn’t be best for every family, noting that two-thirds of parents responding to a survey did not want to return to in-person classes five days a week.
On July 8, 2020, the president criticized the CDC's guidelines for reopening schools as "very tough and expensive."
On July 9, 2020, Dr. Robert Redfield, CDC Director, stated that the agency won't be revising its coronavirus guidelines for reopening schools despite criticism from the president. He said they will provide additional information to help states, communities, and parents decide what to do and when. In draft CDC documents obtained by The Associated Press, the agency says there are steps that schools can take to safely reopen. However, it “cannot provide one-size-fits-all criteria for opening and closing schools or changing the way schools are run.” The draft documents say, “Decisions about how to open and run schools safely should be made based on local needs and conditions.”
Here are the current guidelines for schools released on May 29, 2020.
Current infection rates of school-age children are very high, higher than the overall population
Taking the data from the official report, we can narrow down the numbers to school-age children. We calculate that even before returning to school, an average of 26% of school-age children are currently testing positive for COVID-19. This is a very high rate that is greater than the positivity rate for the overall population which includes adults. The overall positivity rate averaged about 19% over the last 14 days.
When more than a quarter of school-age children are already infected, it certainly puts in serious doubt the advisability of sending children back to school. In fact, the numbers show that children are more likely to be carriers of the virus than adults.
National Surveys & Statements regarding returning to school
On June 4, 2020, Cassia Public Strategy, a communications firm that specializes in student recruitment, conducted a nationwide survey. The survey went to 800 parents of children enrolled in Kindergarten through 12th Grade and asked their views about returning to school in the Fall.
On July 16, 2020, Yahoo News released the results of a Yahoo News/YouGov national poll that went to about 1,500 adults on a series of over 90 questions regarding current issues.
Here are the questions relating to school reopening:
President Trump Actions — Pressure schools to reopen
Do you support or oppose a return to in-person schooling for children in places where there are large numbers of new COVID-19 cases?
Given the current coronavirus situation in your community, should your local schools have in-person or online classes?
Do you have any children who will be in K-12 (kindergarten through 12th grade) in the fall?
Compared to attending in-person classes, do children learn more or less in online classes?
Among those who have children in grades K-12 this fall
Technology for Online Learning
Time to Supervise Children
Reopen or Limit
Send to School
CDC School Reopening Guidelines
CDC guidelines call for schools to stagger schedules, clean surfaces, ensure proper ventilation, spread out desks and provide isolation rooms for sick students. Do these guidelines seem:
Cutting Federal Funding
Schools Have Resources to Stay Safe
Would you support increased federal aid to public schools to keep students and staff safe from the coronavirus this fall?
Why do you believe some officials do not yet support fully reopening schools?
Educator Group Statement
Several educator groups voiced concerns over the lack of attention to health risks for adults who work in schools. On July 10, 2020, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), National Education Association (NEA), and AASA, The School Superintendents Association, issued a joint statement on the safe return of students, teachers, and staff to schools.
On July 14, 2020, Florida reported a daily record of 132 deaths. On the same day, a group of mayors from Miami-Dade County, the current epicenter of infections in the country, met with Governor DeSantis to discuss the COVID-19 crisis.
The bipartisan group of municipal leaders told the governor that he needed to do a better job of conveying a sense of urgency regarding the health crisis in the Miami area. The mayors also informed the governor that they needed better information from the state contact tracers.
During the public discussion, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said:
Mayor Dan Gelber of Miami Beach said, “We have to have a greater sense of urgency,” and told the governor that he should endorse a mask order.
On July 16, 2020, Florida reported a new daily record of 156 deaths.
On July 16, 2020, the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit newsroom, reported on and published a 359-page document prepared for the White House Coronavirus Task Force but not publicized, or released to the public. It is believed that the report, which is updated weekly, is regularly shared with governors.
The document analyzes the COVID-19 situation in each state at the county level and provides statewide and county-level recommendations.
The document identifies 18 states that are classified in the “red zone” for COVID-19 cases, meaning they had more than 100 new cases per 100,000 population, and 11 states in the “red zone” for positivity, meaning the state had a positivity rate of over 10%. Florida was rated to be in the “red zone” for both cases and positivity.
The report makes the following summary recommendations for Florida.
On July 20, 2020, the Florida Education Association (FEA) filed a lawsuit against the governor and other state leaders. It claims that reopening schools in August will create an unsafe environment due to the coronavirus pandemic. The lawsuit names Gov. Ron DeSantis, Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran, and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez as defendants.
The FEA President Fedrick Ingram wrote in a news release:
The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association have expressed support for the lawsuit.
On July 23, 2020, Florida reported a new daily record of 173 deaths.
On July 28, 2020, Florida reported a new daily record of 191 deaths.
On July 29, 2020, Florida reported a new daily record of 217 deaths.
On July 30, 2020, Florida reported a new daily record of 252 deaths.
On July 31, 2020, Florida reported a new daily record of 257 deaths.
The graph above is not a model. It shows actual daily deaths in Florida through July 31, 2020. Notably it shows that for the last four consecutive days there has been successive all-time record daily deaths.
The graph below is not a model. It shows actual daily confirmed cases in Florida through July 31, 2020.
The graph above shows the first peak in new cases occurred on April 4, 2020. Notably, it shows a series of successive peaks that occurred following Phases 1 and 2 that relaxed restrictions. The all-time peak that occured on July 11, 2020 was almost 1200% higher than the first peak in April.
The graph above represents the situation in early May, a day or so before Phase 1 relaxing restrictions was implemented. It shows that before the easing of restrictions, there was a negative growth rate following the first peak. If the restrictions could have been maintained for a few more weeks, that negative growth rate would have resulted in near-zero daily cases by early June.
The above graph is actual daily cases as of July 31, 2020. It shows that, instead of waiting a few weeks for the daily cases to return to near-zero levels, restrictions were relaxed while the infection rate was still high. (Today, with infections rates reaching more than 10 times the first peak, it may not seem that 1,300 daily cases were a lot, but they were.)
Following that relaxation of restrictions, daily new cases were no longer trending downward as shown in the previous graph. Instead, they started trending upward exponentially.
During the last two weeks daily cases have been trending downward. If this trend were to continue for about two more months, daily cases would return to near-zero levels at about the end of September 2020.
The Governor relaxed restrictions starting on May 4, while Florida was still at relatively high infection rates. Those actions, in part, have contributed to new all-time peaks which will prolong the amount of time needed to return to near zero infections. Further, both public gatherings of vacationers, as well as demonstrations by protestors, show many instances of inadequate social distancing in large crowds. Finally, many members of the public, particularly younger Floridians, have viewed this easing of restrictions as a signal to dispense with adequate social distancing. The combination of these actions has culminated in a resumption of an alarming exponential positive growth rate.
On June 25, 2020, there was another major revision of the IHME model. The model now makes multiple projections based on three different scenarios.
Current projection (What the modelers think will most likely happen)
They assume that the trend of easing mandates will continue at its current trajectory.
Mandates easing (Worst case scenario)
This scenario assumes that the current pattern of easing social distancing mandates continues, and new mandates are not imposed.
This scenario calculates what would happen if 95% of the population always wore a mask when they were in public.
The Mandates easing worst-case scenario, assumes that, regardless of the death rate, there will be a continuation of restriction easing, such as returning to in-class schooling. It is currently projecting that the daily death rate will rise to 404 by November 1, 2020 under this scenario.
Current projection scenario is forecasting the same values as the Mandates easing scenario until August 31, 2020, with 198 average daily deaths on that date. It then predicts that Florida will hit the model’s threshold of 8 deaths per million and assumes all restrictions will be reimposed. After the reimposition of these restrictions it projects 39 daily deaths by November 1, 2020.
The Universal masks scenario assumes a statewide mask mandate. This scenario projects a reduction to 93 daily deaths by November 1, 2020.
Below is the current IHME model displaying actual and projected deaths per day.
Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). COVID-19 Projections. Seattle, WA: IHME, University of Washington, 2020. Available from https://covid19.healthdata.org/projections (Accessed August 1, 2020). Dr. Christopher J.L. Murray, Institute Director.
The above graph shows the trend in daily Positivity Rates since mid-March. (Before that time, the daily number of cases was too low to calculate meaningful Positivity Rates.) In May, Florida had enviable Positivity Rates. In fact, on May 20, it briefly dipped to about 1% during a day of heavy testing.
However, there is a delay between being exposed to the virus and manifesting symptoms. Therefore, there was a lag between relaxing restrictions and measuring an increase in cases.
Following May 20, there was an upward trend in Positivity rates. This upward trend illustrates that the increase in daily cases was not due to testing more, but rather the intrinsic infection rate was increasing significantly. During July 2020 Positivity rates leveled off at high rates averaging about 19%.
With record numbers of new daily cases and Positivity Rate also at high levels, it would be irresponsible to plan in-person club events at this time.