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Can’t relax those social restrictions yet but, exhale, Seattle — COVID-19 model says you’ve made it through this outbreak’s peak

Source: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation/http://covid19.healthdata.org

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The influential analysis from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington says the state has already passed through the worst of the planet’s first COVID-19 outbreak.

Monday, the institute’s model says, should represent the terrible heights of the crisis in Washington with 42 deaths reported.

The researchers say increased data — and the work of states like Washington to implement strict social distancing orders — have shifted the forecasts and support predictions for a reduced need for hospital beds, ICU beds, and ventilators.

“As we obtain more data and more precise data, the forecasts we at IHME created have become more accurate,” Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the institute said in an update on its new forecast. “And these projections are vital to health planners, policymakers, and anyone else associated with caring for those affected by and infected with the coronavirus.”

Source: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation/http://covid19.healthdata.org

The group’s model now predicts around 700 deaths across Washington from the outbreak.


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CHS COVID-19 TIMELINE+ Feb. 29 First ‘presumptive positive’ COVID-19 case in King County + Mar. 11 Washington put ‘over 250’ restrictions in place + Mar. 11 Schools closed + Mar. 15 Restaurants and bars closed, ‘over 50’ threshold + Mar. 21 Police begin clearing parks + Apr. 2 Washington restrictions extended + Apr. 6 Schools closed for rest of year

CHS reported here on the initial forecasts from the researchers that showed just how close to maximum hospital capacity Washington could come and the importance of social distancing restrictions.

State totals have now reached more than 8,600 positive cases and 394 reported deaths in the outbreak. In King County, alone, there have been 230 deaths. But the recent trends are encouraging with both deaths and new cases showing signs of a slowing pandemic in the region. Meanwhile, the ZIP Codes covering Capitol Hill have tallied five deaths since the start of the outbreak.

 

Earlier this month, Washington extended its restrictions at least into early May. “The only way to return to our way of life and rebuild our economy in Washington is to defeat this virus,” Gov. Jay Inslee said. “That is why we must continue to stay home and stay healthy.” Washington schools, meanwhile, will remain in distance learning only mode for the rest of the school year.

Washington has now been under strict social distancing restrictions for 30 days.

In addition to a better outlook for its home state of Washington, IHME’s projections are now forecasting a reduced impact from the virus in the United States as a whole.

Across the country, not all state and local leaders are convinced the federal response is ready to help finish containment of the first wave of the virus:

Some state leaders have also grown increasingly concerned about how the federal government is using IHME’s lower estimates to deny states’ increasingly desperate requests for equipment and help in preparations. The stark differences between the IHME model and dozens of others being created by states exposes the glaring lack of national models provided publicly by the White House or agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for local leaders to use in planning or preparation.

Researchers say that social distancing restrictions remain key to containing the outbreak.

“Our estimates assume statewide social distancing measures are continuing in states where they have already been enacted, and for those states without such measures in place, it is assumed they will be will be in place within seven days,” Murray said. “If social distancing measures are relaxed or not implemented, 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.”

UPDATE: Here are the King County graphs with Wednesday’s afternoon update. The county is now at 244 deaths through Tuesday midnight.

CHS COVID-19

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11 thoughts on “Can’t relax those social restrictions yet but, exhale, Seattle — COVID-19 model says you’ve made it through this outbreak’s peak

  1. Spanish flu came in waves. I think this depends on how quickly we can come up with an effective vaccine and how it mutates or branches. There’s a chance it will bounce seasonally between northern and southern hemispheres. Don’t cancel your mask order.

    • I agree with you that COVID-19 may come in waves as well, and could spark in different regions at different times. I’m concerned about people abandoning basic, civic-minded and personal precautions (including handwashing). And the ongoing lack of social safety net (including housing, healthcare access, varying responses by state and federal government, racial disparities impacting everything, and more). Also we have a known lack of mass testing so it seems the data we do have is incomplete and I’m unclear how they can define by what order of magnitude it is off, therefore it’s unclear how to define a peak. Also even if it does tail off, every point in that jittery curve is a person. And they all matter. I’m not saying statisticians don’t appreciate that, just that the spin on the stats can have an agenda.

  2. Problem is what do you do now ? Tech companies switched to high density seating years back so impossible to contain in the workplace, bars and restaurants same problem. Very few people have likely had it in WA so it will just explode again as people start moving around. Nothing doing until vaccine…

  3. There’s been a constant flow of dire news about the pandemic, so it’s really nice to see a glimmer of hope in the data from the UW. And we can be proud that the IHME is providing helpful (and hopefully accurate) forecasts for our state and for the country as a whole.

    • Viruses don’t respect state borders. There are too many unknowns. I hope it’s accurate too, but I’m sure they would acknowledge it’s a projection based on available data in a dynamic situation. I don’t think hope is wrong, just that action is still required, otherwise hope is just a feeling.

  4. Glad to hear it, since we’re finally past the peak hopefully we can start finally getting some of our freedoms back soon. I’d love to at least be able to go on a hike before June…

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