The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s COVID-19 paints a significantly brighter picture for the U.S.—and especially for North Carolina—today than it did just last week.
A week ago, on March 30 the IHME model—which was used to create the White House coronavirus task force projections of 100,000–240,000 deaths in the U.S.—forecast 2,411 deaths in North Carolina before August 4, with the peak coming on April 22. On that day, it predicted, the state’s hospitals would be short 686 hospital beds, 606 ICU beds, and 633 ventilators.
Today’s model moves our peak up to April 15, but in every other way, it is unambiguously positive: The projected death toll is revised downward to 496 (technically, a range of 315–757), while we’re now projected to have far more ICU beds and hospital beds than we need. We are still 219 ventilators shy of the demand.
Later today, the state will release its own model, which will incorporate GPS data from cell phones over the weekend as part of an assessment of how well people are complying with social-distancing orders.
Importantly, the virus appears to peter out in North Carolina around early May. However, the IHME model assumes that strict social-distancing measures will remain in place nationwide until June. Returning to business as usual earlier than that may lead to another spike in cases.
The model changes regularly based on new information. This revision seems driven by North Carolina’s death toll not hitting the kinds of numbers that the model would expect to see if 2,400 people were to die in the next three months.
Nationally, though, the picture has gotten slightly worse. A week ago, the IHME model forecast 81,114 deaths in the U.S. Today’s version forecasts 81,766.
As of this morning, there were 337,971 confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S., and 9,654 people have died. The state Department of Health and Human Services currently lists 2,870 confirmed cases in North Carolina and 33 deaths.
Contact editor in chief Jeffrey C. Billman at email@example.com.
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