Florida Department of Health changes the way it reports new pediatric COVID-19 cases

Posted at 4:19 PM, Aug 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-19 18:17:59-04

TAMPA, Fla. — As the new school year kicks off, Florida health leaders have made changes to the way they report new COVID-19 cases in kids, which could make it more difficult for parents and teachers to find out when there are outbreaks.

Last Friday, the Florida Department of Health quietly made the change. The new reports no longer show the total cumulative number of cases in children. Instead, the public is now only shown the case count for the last two weeks.

This is Wednesday’s pediatric report from the state:

It shows the county-by-county breakdown for positive tests in kids.

Here’s how our Tampa Bay counties are stacking up when it comes to COVID-19 cases involving those under age 18 in the last 14 days:

  • Hillsborough: 384
  • Polk: 284
  • Pinellas: 106
  • Pasco: 77
  • Manatee: 136
  • Sarasota: 71
  • Hernando: 21
  • Citrus: 42
  • Hardee: 7
  • DeSoto: 8
  • Highlands: 32

But the problem with reporting cases only over the past two weeks is we don’t know how many of these cases are two weeks old or how many happened yesterday.

We asked the Florida Department of Health to share the full data so we could better track these cases day over day. The state didn’t respond to our question directly, instead they emailed us this statement on why the state made the change.

“The Department of Health modified the pediatric report in order to better reflect the current transmission rates in these age groups in an effort to assist health departments and schools make decisions as schools reopen. The cumulative cases are available on the report. In the county reports, the cumulative number of cases is available by age group. The pediatric report will continue to be posted daily.”

While it is true that the county reports do provide the daily cumulative cases, the age breakdown is not pediatric-specific.

For example, the pediatric age range with the highest likelihood of transmission is lumped in the 15 to 24 age group, which would include a significant number of adults — people who are not in school.

If you remember, this isn’t the first time the state has kept information like this from the public. At the beginning of the pandemic, ABC Action News fought to release state records on reported deaths and cases in long-term care facilities.

We plan to continue pushing the state for more information on COVID-19 cases in kids to help you make informed decisions for you and your family.

You can view the Florida Department of Health COVID-19 dashboard by clicking here.

You can view the Florida Department of Health COVID-19 Pediatric Report by clicking here.