About the Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID graphs as of February 21, 2021.)

The coronavirus pandemic has affected all aspects of our lives, and club social activities are no exception. We continue to monitor the situation for current Florida-specific information and are taking action to adjust to this new reality. 

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 conventional in-person social events, we continue to host virtual activities and video conferencing to exchange Tesla and club-related information.

These events are a lot of fun and involve sharing Tesla experiences and information in a casual and relaxed atmosphere.

I remain in communication with Tesla Corporate and local Tesla leaders. We continue to work with Tesla to host Virtual events. 

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 continue to organize In-Car activities. These activities involve meeting for parades, scenic drives, race track events, etc. Participants remain in their cars during most of the events and wear face masks with strict social distancing to maintain safety.

Outdoor Activities

In September 2020, we started Outdoor activities with strict COVID-19 protocols in place. 

When Will We Resume Conventional In-Person Social Activities?

As we mentioned, we resumed "in-person" Outdoor activities in September 2020. These activities require wearing face masks and strict observance of social distancing requirements. There will be no indoor group activities, and group social interactions will be severely limited. Even with vaccinations proceeding, we don't expect to resume indoor activities, with robust coronavirus protocols, until the fourth quarter of this year.

Conventional In-person interactions without some form of COVID-19 measures, realistically, may not happen until 2022. 

During a town hall meeting on CNN on February 16, 2021, President Biden expressed the hope that things might  return to normal by next Christmas. He went on to say: "A year from now, I think that there'll be significantly fewer people having to be socially distanced, having to wear a mask." He added: "I don't want to over promise anything here."

On February 21, 2021, Dr. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease doctor, said he agreed with President Biden that “we’ll be approaching normalcy by the end of this year, and God willing this Christmas will be different than last.” However, Fauci also said that face masks — for many Americans, one of the most visible signs of abnormality — may still be necessary in 2022.

Vaccine News:

National

Summary: (As of February 23, 2021.)

On February 22, 2021, total deaths in the U.S. surpassed 500,000 Americans.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of February 23, 2021,  82,114,370 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been distributed to the states.  65,032,083 doses were administered. 19,882,544 people, or 6% of the population were fully inoculated with two doses.  (Health experts state that at least 70% of the population is needed to achieve herd immunity.)

It was learned that multiple variants (mutations) of the virus that causes COVID-19 are circulating globally:

  • The United Kingdom (U.K.) identified a variant in the fall of 2020. This variant spreads more easily and quickly. In January 2021, experts in the U.K. reported that it may be associated with an increased risk of death, but more studies are needed to confirm this finding. It has since been detected in many countries. It was detected in the U.S. and in Florida at the end of December 2020.
  • In South Africa, another variant emerged in early October 2020. It shares some mutations with the U.K. variant.  Cases by this variant were reported in the U.S. in South Carolina at the end of January 2021.
  • In Brazil, a variant emerged in early January 2021.  This variant contains a set of additional mutations that may affect its ability to be recognized by antibodies. This means that it may be resistant to existing vaccines. This variant was first detected in the U.S. in Minnesota at the end of January 2021.

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Developments

Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna received Emergency Use Authorization and began to distribute their vaccines in December 2020.

The University of Oxford and AstraZeneca was close to asking for FDA approval in December. However, dosage mistakes made that impossible for USA approval even though the United Kingdom has approved this vaccine.  

At a press conference on December 14, 2020, the chief adviser to Operation Warp Speed estimated the company could potentially file for emergency use in February.

On January 29, 2021, Johnson & Johnson announced that after completing its phase 3 testing, its vaccine was 72% effective in the U.S. at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19, 28 days after vaccination. They found that it was 85% effective overall in preventing severe disease and 100% effective against hospitalization and death as of Day 28.

Johnson & Johnson officially asked the FDA for emergency use authorization on February 4, 2021. Vaccine advisers to the FDA will meet on February 26, 2021, to discuss whether to recommend it for emergency use authorization. This would be the first single-dose COVIED-19 shot available in the U.S.

On February 23, 2021, Johnson & Johnson's Dr. Richard Nettles  told the House Committee on Energy & Commerce subcommittee that the plan "is to begin shipping immediately upon emergency use authorization, and deliver enough single-doses by the end of March to enable the vaccination of more than 20 million Americans."

On February 23, 2021, Pfizer and Moderna executives told lawmakers that they project a major increase in vaccine deliveries that will result in 140 million more doses over the next five weeks. They said that they solved manufacturing challenges.

Each vaccine has different storage and transportation requirements. Pfizer has the most stringent temperature storage requirements. Oxford/AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson can be stored in standard refrigerators and have the least strict requirements. Moderna falls in between. Many billions of dosages will have to be produced and distributed. In addition, at least 70% of the United States population will have to agree to take it for adequate herd immunity to be achieved.

On February 19, 2021, Pfizer asked the FDA to relax requirements for their COVID-19 vaccine to be stored at ultra-low temperatures, potentially allowing it to be kept in pharmacy freezers.

Florida Vaccination Plan

Summary (As of February 23, 2021.)

According to the CDC, as of February 23, 2021, 5,483,265 dosages were distributed to Florida, and 4,406,005 vaccinations were given. So, 80% of the number distributed was administered. Of that number, 6.8% of the Florida population has been fully inoculated with two shots.

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Developments

On December 23, 2020, Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-315. It prioritizes the first phase of vaccinations as:

  • Long-term care facility residents and staff;
  • Persons 65 years of age and older; and
  • Health care personnel with direct patient contact.

Hospital providers, however, also may vaccinate persons who they deem to be extremely vulnerable to COVID-19.

On January 21, 2021, the State Surgeon General issued  Public Health Advisory – Prioritization of Floridians for COVID-19 Vaccinations Given in Florida.  It further requires vaccine recipients to be Florida residents or a health care providers in direct contact with patients.

COVID-19 Home Testing

On December 15, the FDA issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the first over-the-counter (OTC) fully at-home diagnostic test for COVID-19. The Ellume COVID-19 Home Test.

  • This is the first coronavirus test that can run at home without the need for a prescription.
  • People as young as 2 years old are cleared to use the test, which takes just 15 to 20 minutes to deliver a result.
  • The Ellume COVID-19 Home Test correctly identified 96% of positive samples and 100% of negative samples in individuals with symptoms. In people without symptoms, the test correctly identified 91% of positive samples and 96% of negative samples.
  • Bella Zabinofsky, a spokeswoman for the Elume, stated that each kit is expected to cost about $30 or less.
  • The Home Test uses an analyzer that connects with a software application on a smartphone to help users perform the test and interpret results.
  • In an interview, Ellume chief executive Sean Parsons said supply initially will be limited to 100,000, with plans to increase manufacturing to 1 million by the middle of next year.
  • The company will be announcing a partnership with a major retailer — such as Walgreens, CVS, or Walmart — to sell the test and create policies that would prevent hoarding by consumers.
  • The test’s price and limited availability may restrict it from frequent use.

The following are Graphs and Analysis.

Click here to jump to the Summary.

Graphs of pandemic status and analysis as February 21, 2021.

The graph below shows actual daily confirmed cases in Florida since the beginning of the pandemic through February 20, 2021.


The graph above shows the first peak of less than 1,300 new cases occurred on April 4, 2020.  The second all-time peak of over 15,000 cases occurred on July 11, 2020. The all-time peak of over 21,000 occurred on December 31, 2020. 

Trend  before relaxation of restrictions


The graph above is an enlargement of the first peak. It represents the situation in early May 2020, just 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. 

Outbreaks following the relaxation of restrictions


The above graph shows daily confirmed cases since the outbreak of coronavirus through to February 20, 2021. It illustrates that outbreaks in cases occurred directly following the various Phases which relaxed restrictions.

On May 4, the Governor initiated Phase 1 relaxing restrictions while Florida was still at high infection rates. That was followed by Phase 2 on June 6, which further removed restrictions. Following those actions, daily new cases were no longer trending downward, as shown in the previous graph. Instead, they started to exponentially trend upward, culminating with a peak in July.

After reaching over 15,000 cases in July, the number of cases trended lower during August. This decline in cases was not indicative of a real decrease in infection rate. During this period, testing was down by 75%.  Refer to the next graph, New Tests.

The Governor further removed restrictions on September 25, when he enacted Phase 3. Again that was immediately followed by another exponential increase in cases which continued through the end of the 2020.  Experts correctly cautioned that we would experience a "peak on a peak" during the holiday season with families tending to gather more frequently. On December 31, 2020 an all-time peak of over 21,000 cases occurred.  


The above chart shows daily tests to date since the outbreak of coronavirus through February 20, 2021. As can be seen, despite having made excellent progress in initially ramping up testing through the middle of July, following that there was a significant downward trend in testing. Therefore, most of the decline in daily cases in August shown in earlier graph was caused by a significant reduction in testing and was not due to a substantial drop in infection rates.

Some of the increases in cases that followed during September and beyond was due to partially resuming the number of daily tests particularly around Thanksgiving.  However, the infection rate continued to increase during the holiday season and continued upward moving into the new year as shown in the following graph.

Following the new year, in general the trend in testing rate is currently decreasing during February, 2021. This may be due to the fact that resources are being directed to vaccinations at the expense of maintaining testing stations.  


To figure out whether changes in daily confirmed cases are due to changes in infections, or merely due to fluctuations in testing, we measure the daily infection rate. (Refer to the graph directly above.) The infection rate is also referred to as Positivity Rate. The Positivity rate is the percent of tests that come back positive. Because the Positivity rate is a percentage of tests, it is an accurate indicator of the level of infection that is independent of the number of tests conducted.

The graph shows that the infection rate peaked at in mid-July, but then declined during August. Beginning in October infections increased and peaked at the end of 2020. 

Positivity is currently trending downward.

The World Health Organization has an extensive list of public health criteria to consider before reopening a community. Among them is a positivity rate of less than 5 percent in the previous two weeks. The Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (FCAAP) also recommends following this positivity guideline.


An all-time record of 277 deaths occurred on August 8, 2020.  Since then there was a downward trend in deaths during August. In September new death leveled off. In November the death rate began trending upward again and tied the peak of 277 in December. Despite improvements in treatments, deaths continue to trend upward during January 2021. During February average deaths have plateaued at near record highs.

The trend in death rate is an accurate measure to determine whether we are controlling the virus because it is independent from fluctuations in the testing rate.  However, it is a lagging indicator and generally spikes in deaths follow spikes in cases by a few weeks.


Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) Model for Florida

Daily Deaths (As of February 23, 2021.)

The IHME model makes multiple projections based on several different scenarios with varying assumptions.

Current projection (What the modelers think will most likely happen)

  • Mask use stays at current observed levels.
  • UK, South African and Brazil Variants continues to spread.
  • Vaccine distribution is at the expected pace.
  • Mobility for unvaccinated remains the same, for 25% of vaccinated mobility returns to pre-COVID-19 levels.

This scenario is forecasting 35 daily deaths on June 1, 2021.   

Worst case 

  • Mask use stays at current observed levels.
  • UK Variant continues to spread.
  • South African Variant continues to spread.
  • Vaccine distribution is at the expected pace.
  • Vaccine’s effectiveness is lower for South African Variant.
  • Mobility for unvaccinated remains the same, for 100% of vaccinated mobility returns to pre-COVID-19 levels.

This scenario is forecasting 48 daily deaths on June 1, 2021.  

Universal masks 

  • Mask use immediately increases to 95%.
  • Vaccine distribution is at the expected pace.
  • UK Variant continues to spread.
  • Mobility for unvaccinated remains the same, for 25% of vaccinated mobility returns to pre-COVID-19 levels.

This scenario is forecasting 13 daily deaths on June 1, 2021.  

The three scenarios are all showing an optimistic decline in deaths through June 2021.


Below is the current (February 23, 2021) IHME model displaying actual and projected 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 February 23, 2021). 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. We will be using the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) computer model to assist in planning the timing of our upcoming face-to-face events. More importantly, we will continue to monitor actual data.  

We will be resuming "in-person" activities in phases.

    • In September, we resumed "in-person" Outdoor activities with strict COVID-19 protocols in place. 
    • In the fourth quarter of this year we will consider certain Indoor activities with appropriate measures. If warranted, those measures may include proof of vaccinations or point-of-care COVID-19 testing in addition to face masks and social distancing.
    • We don't expect a resumption of Conventional In-person interactions without COVID-19 measures until virtually all of the population is vaccinated. Our best guess is this won't happen until 2022.

You may ask, "Why not just resume in-person activities consistent with the governor's timetable for reopening businesses?" Unfortunately, those prior actions continue to result in significant resurgence in cases.

New infections rebounded rather than the consistent decline in May that we observed before the easing of restrictions. Public gatherings of vacationers and demonstrations by protesters show many instances of inadequate social distancing. 

In the absence of a widely distributed vaccine, it is prudent to wait for near-zero new confirmed cases before resuming Conventional In-person activities without COVID-19 measures in place.  

You may think that waiting for near-zero new confirmed daily cases is being unduly cautious. Here are some statistics to put things in perspective. Even though there have been about 10.8 million people tested, about 50% of the Florida population remains untested. Thus, about 10.6 million people have not been tested. The daily Florida infection rate averaged 19.8% during the last 14 days. The CDC's best estimate based on research shows that 40% of people with COVID-19 were unaware they have the virus and are infectious.

Therefore, there could be about 2.1 million untested infectious people in Florida. Of them, more than 845,000 people may be walking around carrying the virus without knowing it. These are conservative figures since people testing negative are not immune from catching the virus later and only 6.8% of the population have received the full dose of the vaccines. 

According to data released by the CDC, the number of actual coronavirus infections may average eight times the reported case rate.

Despite this sizeable invisible danger, Floridians are no longer being asked to limit movements outside the home. Holiday travel caused a surge in cases, hospitalizations and deaths before a sufficient number of vaccinations could be administered. Deaths have plateaued near record average levels.

So, before resuming Conventional In-person club events without COVID-19 measures in place, with more than a million untested people invisibly infected and mobility increasing, it isn't unduly cautious to wait:

    • for new daily cases to reach near-zero levels
    • for the Positivity Rate to stop trending upward and be much lower
    • for new daily deaths to stop trending upward and be much lower
    • For widespread vaccine inoculations

For graphs and analysis of the data, click here for Graphs of Pandemic Status.

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 or its subsidiaries.

Our club is an official partner of the Tesla Owners Club Program. While it is recognized and sanctioned by Tesla 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 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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