Adjusted coronavirus model predicts fewer people in US will need hospitals, but 82,000 will still die by August

CNN's Martin Savidge profiles the experiences of Americans who are facing added difficulties to their daily lives due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Posted: Apr 7, 2020 3:10 PM
Updated: Apr 7, 2020 3:10 PM

An influential model tracking the coronavirus pandemic in the United States now predicts that fewer people will die and fewer hospital beds will be needed compared to its estimates from last week.

As of Monday, the model predicted the virus will kill 81,766 people in the United States over the next four months, with just under 141,000 hospital beds being needed. That's about 12,000 fewer deaths -- and 121,000 fewer hospital beds -- than the model estimated on Thursday.

A "massive infusion of new data" led to the adjustments, according to the model's maker, Dr. Christopher Murray, who serves as director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

Additional data on the pandemic's trajectory -- in the United States and around the world -- has always been expected, along with methodological changes to fine-tune the predictions. And from the start, researchers at IHME, who built the model, have emphasized that it would change.

But the newest version of the model underscores just how important social distancing continues to be: It assumes that those measures -- such as closing schools and businesses -- will continue until August, and it still predicts tens of thousands of deaths.

While the analysis has been repeatedly cited by Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House's coronavirus response coordinator, the administration's current guidelines only recommend social distancing through April 30.

Flood of new data triggered adjustments

The model essentially predicts how social distancing measures will affect the trajectory of coronavirus in the US. Everyone agrees that social distancing measures will save lives, but how quickly the distancing works -- and how dramatically it reduces infections -- has not been clear.

When the model was first released, the only place that had reached its coronavirus "peak" was Wuhan, China, according to the IHME researchers. But as of Monday, seven locations in Spain and Italy appear to have reached their apexes as well, providing a flood of new data for the model to analyze.

Those regions seem to have reached their peaks more quickly in the wake of social distancing measures, according to the researchers. That means that some states -- such as Florida, Virginia, Louisiana and West Virginia -- are now expected to hit their peaks earlier than previously expected, potentially giving them less time to prepare.

Beyond infusing the model with new data, researchers tweaked its methodology to better predict the spread of the virus in states that have seen few cases. And they also fine-tuned their analysis of social distancing measures after noticing that certain measures -- such as school closures -- appeared more impactful in some places than others.

Every state, and even regions within each state, have looked at the White House's guidance on non-essential travel differently, Murray said at a press conference on Monday.

Based on cell phone mobility data, for example, researchers found that "there's variability across state[s] in how mandates are being interpreted." Moving forward, researchers plan to explore whether incorporating that data will further improve predictions, Murray said.

A surge in hospitalization data

Early versions of the model had little data on how patients fared after being hospitalized in the United States, but the version released Monday includes more granular information now available from state governments.

Researchers looked at more than 16,000 hospital admissions, for example, and almost 3,000 deaths related to Covid-19. They then estimated that fewer hospital resources -- such as total beds, intensive care beds and ventilators -- will be needed during the virus's peak.

How long patients are expected to stay in the hospital has also changed: Patients in intensive care are now expected to have longer stays than previously predicted, while those with milder cases are predicted to have shorter stays.

On Thursday, for example, the model predicted that patients who needed intensive care would only stay in the hospital for eight days until being discharged. Now, they're expected to be hospitalized for 20. But patients who didn't need intensive care were originally thought to need a 15-day stay, compared to just over a week now.

As more data becomes available, those estimates -- like all of the model's projections -- will change. And importantly, they're based on the ongoing assumption that social distancing measures will continue for months, and will be implemented in places that have yet to do so.

According to Murray, the model's maker, the consequences could be dire if social distancing measures are relaxed or ignored: "The US will see greater death tolls, the death peak will be later, the burden on hospitals will be much greater and the economic costs will continue to grow."

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose state is at the epicenter of the US outbreak, said on Saturday that the situation is "turning" and the "rate of infection is going down." That's consistent with IHME's model, which predicts that the state will hit "peak resource use" -- the day hospitals are stretched the thinnest -- on Wednesday.

But while New York's cases have generally tracked with IHME's predictions so far, Cuomo said there is a "danger" in being "over-confident." Other entities have made that error, he said, "and we're not going to make that mistake."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 49575

Reported Deaths: 2739
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11812690
Lake5337247
Elkhart343257
Allen2867133
St. Joseph202569
Cass16439
Hamilton1629101
Hendricks1439100
Johnson1306118
Porter78038
Tippecanoe7439
Clark67144
Madison66864
Vanderburgh6296
LaPorte59727
Bartholomew59245
Howard58258
Kosciusko5654
Marshall5217
Noble49128
LaGrange4829
Jackson4773
Delaware46052
Boone45944
Hancock45736
Shelby43425
Floyd39144
Morgan32831
Monroe31528
Grant30226
Montgomery29720
Henry29316
Dubois2906
Clinton2882
White26810
Decatur25532
Lawrence25125
Dearborn24723
Vigo2408
Warrick23229
Harrison21722
Greene19132
Miami1892
Jennings17912
Putnam1708
DeKalb1634
Scott1628
Daviess15017
Wayne1496
Perry1409
Orange13623
Steuben1332
Franklin1278
Jasper1252
Ripley1247
Wabash1152
Carroll1122
Fayette1037
Gibson1032
Newton9910
Whitley995
Starke963
Huntington822
Randolph804
Wells791
Jefferson782
Fulton731
Jay680
Washington671
Pulaski661
Knox650
Clay644
Rush603
Owen511
Adams491
Posey490
Benton480
Spencer461
Sullivan451
Brown421
Blackford392
Fountain332
Crawford320
Tipton311
Switzerland280
Parke240
Martin220
Ohio210
Vermillion170
Warren151
Union130
Pike110
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 61331

Reported Deaths: 3006
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin11122439
Cuyahoga8518383
Hamilton6396206
Lucas2859304
Marion273739
Montgomery228335
Summit2269209
Pickaway220641
Mahoning1885239
Butler172147
Columbiana132460
Stark1171114
Lorain107368
Trumbull101474
Warren91825
Clark78410
Delaware64515
Fairfield61417
Tuscarawas59010
Belmont55822
Lake55122
Medina54832
Licking53612
Miami48631
Portage47759
Wood46151
Ashtabula43844
Clermont4367
Geauga41543
Wayne36752
Richland3595
Allen33841
Greene3009
Mercer29410
Erie26022
Darke25326
Holmes2524
Huron2342
Madison2069
Ottawa16124
Sandusky14215
Washington14220
Crawford1375
Ross1363
Putnam13315
Coshocton1323
Hardin12312
Morrow1201
Auglaize1094
Jefferson952
Muskingum921
Union921
Athens911
Monroe8917
Hancock841
Preble811
Hocking798
Lawrence790
Guernsey763
Shelby724
Williams722
Clinton700
Logan661
Fulton650
Ashland621
Wyandot615
Carroll603
Brown591
Scioto560
Defiance543
Knox531
Fayette510
Highland471
Champaign461
Van Wert430
Perry401
Seneca362
Henry320
Jackson270
Paulding270
Pike270
Adams241
Vinton222
Gallia201
Noble130
Harrison121
Meigs120
Morgan110
Unassigned00
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