About the Coronavirus Pandemic (Updated June 4, 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 somewhat relaxed, yet 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.

Virtual Activities

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 two virtual events. The first was a Virtual Meetup to view images of a Model Y and to discuss the owner's initial impressions. Our second was a Virtual Presentation by Tesla discussing their Energy Products.  Both events were great successes. We hope to conduct a series of virtual activities.

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.

In-Car Activities

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.

These events can be open to Tesla owners that are not current members.

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 our best estimate is we won't be able to resume in-person activities before December. 

Why December?  (Click here If you don't have the time for lengthy explanations.)

For inquiring minds, please read the long answer below. It describes federal and Florida policies governing social interaction and 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."

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/projectionsDr. 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. 

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

  • Museums, libraries, restaurants, and retail shops can operate at 50% capacity, up from the current 25%.
  • Gyms can open as long as they maintain social distancing and keep capacity at 50%.
  • Any professional Florida team can train at sporting venues.
  • Amusement parks can submit reopening plans to the state, which should include a date for when they'd like to reopen.
  • Individuals should avoid socializing in groups of more than 10 people in circumstances that do not readily allow for appropriate social distancing of at least 6 feet.

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 May 27th mobility had risen to 30% below normal, which is still significantly 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:

  • Restaurants will be able to resume bar-top seating with social distancing. Although the Governor didn't discuss it, the previously published plan states that restaurants can increase seating to 75% capacity under the Phase 2 guidelines.
  • Gyms and retail stores can operate at full capacity.
  • Bars and pubs can operate at 50 percent capacity in indoor areas and full capacity outdoors, as long as social distancing is maintained. Customers must be seated to receive service.
  • Movie theaters, and bowling alleys, they may operate at 50% capacity with social distancing and sanitation protocols.
  • Bowling alleys, arcades, movie theaters, and other auditoriums can reopen at 50 percent capacity.
  • Tattoo parlors, tanning salons, and other personal service businesses can also reopen as long as they adhere to guidance from the Florida Department of Health.
  • Individuals should avoid socializing in groups of more than 50 people in circumstances that do not readily allow for appropriate social distancing of at least 6 feet.



The graph below is not a model. It shows actual daily confirmed cases through June 3, 2020.


The graph above shows the first peak in new cases occurred on April 4, 2020.  Notably, it shows a new all-time peak that occurred on June 3, 2020.

The red line shows the weekly rolling average of infections. The positive growth rate to get to that peak was initially increasing exponentially.  However, since reaching the peak, the negative growth rate is declining slower. Therefore, although it took only a month to reach the peak, it will take much longer to return to normal.  

The graph above is also actual data. It zooms in on the portion of the data since the first peak in infections  and shows the overall slight downward trend (blue line) since the peak.  However, the blue arrow marks when state restrictions were relaxed and since then actual cases are trending upward. The red trendline show the upward trend in the last 14 days is averaging an increase in 32 cases per day.


The graph above shows that the overall trend since the first peak is still slightly downward despite the recent upward trend.  If the current infection rate doesn't continue to rise, (a big IF) and resumes at the current overall downward trend, the graph shows that new confirmed daily cases could reach near zero levels by December 5, 2020. This simple approach, of course, is very optimistic. The revised IHME model projects a non-linear tailing off of infections, rather than a linear decline as I am showing.

It is important to note that inherent in this data is the fact that strict social distancing measures were in place before May 4th. Therefore, the projection is somewhat based on a suppressed infection rate consistent with those tight restrictions.

However, since the Governor relaxed restrictions starting on May 4, while Florida was still at relatively high infection rates, those actions appear to have resulted in a new all-time peak which will prolong the amount of time needed to return to near zero infections.  Contrary to the recent trends in infection rates, the Governor has announced that he will initiate Phase 2 with additional easing of restrictions just one day following the all-time peak in new daily confirmed cases.

Further, if the public sees this easing of restrictions as a signal to dispense with adequate social distancing, then it could result in a resumption of an exponential positive growth rate.

Recently, both public gatherings of vacationers, as well as demonstrations by protestors, show many instances of inadequate social distancing in large crowds.  The results of those actions on the infection rate may start showing up data a few weeks from now to add to the excessively high current infection rates. 

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.

Revised IHME Model for the Country

These improvements in the IHME model result in country-wide death projections nearly double over their previous estimates. The smoothed data (solid line below), displays actual current deaths per day for the county as of June 1, 2020. 


Source:

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 June1, 2020). Dr. Christopher J.L. Murray, Institute Director.

Internal White House Projections

Also, 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 the revised IHME model predicts, 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 document was produced by FEMA and CDC staff and not an anonymous source.  


Source:

New York Times article Models Project Sharp Rise in Deaths as States Reopen May 5, 2020.

Revised IHME Model for Florida

Below is the revised IHME model displaying actual and projected deaths per day as of June 1, 2020.  As I mentioned earlier, the model projects a gradual tailing off of deaths.  On August 4, the current limit of their projections, they are forecasting 9 deaths per day.


Source:

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 June 1, 2020). Dr. Christopher J.L. Murray, Institute Director.


So, what does this all mean?

Our club's future in-person social engagement will be guided by the best science available to us. That means we will be using the most current version of the IHME computer model and similar models to assist in planning in the timing of our upcoming face-to-face events.

More importantly, we will continue to monitor actual confirmed new daily cases. When the number of new cases in Florida is near zero, we will plan to resume in-person social activities. At that time, we will determine what measures should be taken to ensure the safety of our members and guests.

You may think that waiting for near-zero new confirmed daily cases is being unduly cautious, but let me provide some statistics to put things in perspective. Even though there have been about a million tests, 95.2% of the Florida population remains untested. Thus, about 20.5 million people have not been tested. The current Florida infection rate averaged 3.4% during the last 14 days. Research shows 25% to 80% of people with COVID-19 were unaware they have the virus.

Therefore, there are about 700,000 untested infectious people in Florida. Of them, at least 170,000 and perhaps more than 500,000 people are walking around carrying the virus without knowing it.

With that many untested people carrying the virus, it's not unduly cautious to wait for the actual tested new daily cases to reach near-zero levels before resuming in-person club events.  

The infection rate has rebounded due to the relaxation of state restrictions. Those actions have resulted in a new all-time peak on June 3, 2020, which will prolong the amount of time needed to return to near zero tested infections. Both public gatherings of vacationers, as well as demonstrations by protestors, show many instances of inadequate social distancing in large crowds.

My current estimate is that we won't be near zero confirmed (tested) cases before December, but it doesn't factor in the possible negative consequences of these large, unprotected public gatherings. Hopefully, in response to this resurgence, the Governor will take action to slow down or reverse further easing of restrictions. Such action may restore the decline in infection rates sufficiently to permit us to attend our next planned in-person event scheduled for September.

Stay well.


Larry Chanin

President, Florida Tesla Enthusiasts

email: lfchanin@gmail.com

Website: teslaownersflorida.org

Facebook: Florida Tesla Enthusiasts

Florida Tesla Enthusiasts, Inc. is an enthusiast club and 501(c) 7 non-profit organization. It is registered with the Florida Department of State and is also registered to do business in Florida as Tesla Owners Florida.

The use of the trademarked name "Tesla" in our club names is strictly for the nominative purposes of description and identification as granted by the Lanham Act for fair use of trademarks. Its use is in no way intended to imply any business affiliation with Tesla Motors, Inc. or its subsidiaries.

Our club participates in the Tesla Owners Club Program. While it is recognized and sanctioned by Tesla Motors through the program, Florida Tesla Enthusiasts, a/k/a Tesla Owners Club of Florida, is an independent enthusiast organization and is not affiliated with Tesla Motors, Inc. or its subsidiaries. TESLA, MODEL S, MODEL X, MODEL 3, POWERWALL and the “TESLA,” “T” and “TESLA and T Flag” designs, and certain other marks, are trademarks or registered trademarks of Tesla Motors, Inc. in the United States and other countries.

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