COVID death toll looks 'in the rear-view mirror,' health experts say

The Florida Department of Health recorded 120 deaths related to COVID-19 on Thursday, July 9, 2020 -- a grim milestone for the state since the pandemic began.

Health experts say the daily number of deaths reported by the state does not reflect the actual amount of deaths on Thursday. Instead, it's a representation of the number of deaths over about a one-week time span.

"What we are seeing in the death numbers is really reporting what was going on in the actual dynamics of the infection probably about a month to five weeks ago,” said Dr. Thomas Unnasch, a public health professor at the University of South Florida. “You’re looking in the rear-view mirror. It'll tell you where you’ve been, but it doesn’t help tell you where you’re going.”

RELATED: Florida reports highest single-day jump in COVID-19 deaths

Dr. Unnasch says the process of being infected by COVID-19, showing symptoms, going to the hospital, then dying takes about one month. It takes health officials another week to record that patient's death. Once the death is recorded, it's added to the total number of deaths in the state.

The latest statistics from the Florida Department of Health show 35% of people who have died from complications related to COVID-19 are age 85 or older.  Only 1% of deaths in Florida are patients in the age group of 25-34, even though they have the highest rate of infection.

Florida's total COVID-19 death toll sits at 4,009, with 2,029 being staff or residents in long-term care facilities, according to the Department of Health.

If you feel sick:

The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: What you need to know


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