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Letters to the Editor: Was Ron DeSantis right? Or can we not trust Florida’s COVID numbers?

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks about education during the pandemic at a school in Kissimmee, Fla., on Nov. 30, 2020.
(Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda / Associated Press)

To the editor: Only one thing is worse than making a mistake, and that is failing to acknowledge it. California has simply not chosen the right path in handling COVID-19, while Florida has, and The Times fails to accept that fact. (“California and Florida took vastly different approaches to COVID-19. Here’s how it turned out,” March 9)

By choosing to focus on a few data points, The Times misses the point that Florida’s refusal to crater its economy for the sake of appearances was the better path.

The death rates quoted in the article and expressed in percentages are really quite close: 0.1385% of California’s population has died from COVID-19, versus 0.1538% for Florida. Having lost a friend to COVID-19, I know that each individual death is tragic, but using gross numbers expressed in deaths per million masks the relatively small difference and unfairly plays on our individual emotions.

Also, according to the U.S. Census, only 14.8% of California’s population is in the highest-risk, over-65 age group, while Florida has 20.9% in that category. Still, Florida’s death rate is not much higher than California’s.

Doing the math, it’s easy to see that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was right, and Gov. Gavin Newsom was wrong.

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Richard Ayoob, Glendale

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To the editor: I feel that you missed one large factor that makes any comparison between California and Florida premature.

California has been a leader in openness, clarity and reliance on expert scientific guidance in the timely tabulating and analyzing of case counts, deaths, hospitalizations and demographic and economic factors. Florida has been a leader in politicization, obfuscation and delay in its approach to reporting on COVID-19.

From the well-publicized firing, harassment and even arrest of Florida’s data scientist in charge of reporting on the pandemic to the instances of underreporting prior to last year’s election, Florida’s statistics have huge uncertainty surrounding them.

Just like with many other aspects of this pandemic, we will have to wait for some time before true comparisons can be made. For now, in the thick of pandemic, I trust California’s numbers and approach.

Craig Horton, Los Angeles

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To the editor: This was a very interesting and thoughtful analysis. However, one variable I would like to have seen explored is how many people visited Florida, got infected with COVID-19 there and died after returning to their home states.

The number will probably never be known, but the state’s “open” policy certainly contributed to illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths that do not show up in Florida’s tally.

Marcia Goldstein, Laguna Woods


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