Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

The new study points out the potentially avoidable death toll in several key states across the US, including Florida.

The numbers are sobering: at least 11,862 of 16,789 COVID-19 resident deaths in Florida could have potentially been avoided, according to estimates from a new study conducted by researchers at Columbia and Cornell universities.

The new study points out the avoidable death toll in several key states across the US, including Florida. Of the 16 states in the study, which also looks at the preventable fatalities in Arizona, Wisconsin, Georgia, and North Carolina, the absence of a swift and effective government response led to more than 56,000 needless COVID-19 deaths.

A Lack of Leadership

The first part of the study, which was originally released Oct. 22, revealed that the US could have avoided between 130,000 and 210,000 of the country’s 229,109 COVID-19 deaths. 

These deaths, the report found, could have been prevented by creating sufficient testing capabilities, ordering earlier lockdowns, issuing a national mask-wearing mandate, and providing federal guidance on social distancing, among other measures.

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“Our national experience with this disease will for years to come be Exhibit A in demonstrating the critical impact of leadership and respect for science, or lack of it, in public health crisis response,” Dr. Nathaniel Hupert, of the Cornell Institute for Disease and Disaster Preparedness, said in a news release. 

Leading in Deaths

“The data establishes that a significant number of lives could have been saved if the Trump administration acted on the advice from the scientific and public health community,” Irwin Redlener, principal author of the report at Columbia University, said in a news release. 

Redlener pointed out that even when taking into account median population age, and obesity, two well-documented factors that affect COVID-19 mortality rates, there is a disproportionately high COVID-19 death rate in the US compared to other countries. In fact, the US death toll currently stands apart from that of nearly all high-income nations like South Korea, Japan, Germany, Australia, France, and Canada. As of Nov. 5, the novel coronavirus has claimed 234,000 lives across the nation. Of those, 16,921 are in Florida alone. 

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“It is sobering to remember that last year, before COVID-19 hit, the US was ranked first in the world in an independent assessment of pandemic preparedness,” said Dr. Hupert. 

The study incorporates data through Oct. 16, when the US death toll was 217,717. At that time, more than 8 million COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the US. The researchers calculated the total death count in each country as a percentage of its population, to determine the proportional number of deaths that each country would have suffered if its population were the same as the US.

Pushed Into Poverty

The report also blasted the current administration for its lack of funding “to support the millions who have been pushed into poverty as a result of this pandemic,” as well as ongoing threats to withhold federal disaster relief funds to push partisan agendas, which, according to Redlener, “sets a dangerous precedent in the politicization of disaster spending.”