The Florida Department of Health updated its COVID-19 mortality reporting process, which affects how the official state and CDC data are interpreted. Previously, like other states, Florida assigned dates to COVID-19 deaths corresponding to the date they were reported; however, Florida now assigns dates that correspond to the date of death. While reporting mortality by the date of death is technically the most accurate approach, it makes it difficult to monitor current trends. Deaths can take days or weeks to be identified, confirmed, and reported, which results in a sharp artificial decline in daily mortality over the most recent several days, even though the actual trend could be increasing. As deaths are confirmed, they will be added to the correct date of death, so the data from recent days will fill in over time. These delays mean that it will take extra time to identify changing trends, including the peak during a surge or the start of a new surge. Based on recent trends, Florida is believed to be averaging more than 200 deaths per day; however its most recent report includes only 11 deaths for September 1, bringing its average down all the way down to 64. Because Florida represents approximately 20% of the average national daily mortality, its new reporting scheme is affecting how investigators interpret the national-level trend as well. The US average could easily be 100-150 deaths per day higher than the current reported value.
CSSE is reporting 39,672,736 positive cases in the U.S. and 644,761 deaths. FDOH has changed its reporting of data from daily to weekly and now has changed when deaths are reported so the death information is probably not currently meaningful. As of 5:15 pm on Friday, the FDOH has not updated the number of cases or deaths for the previous week.