Story at a glance
- The analysis previously estimated more than 83,000 deaths with social distancing measures in place through May.
- Researchers now predict fewer hospital and ICU bed shortages.
- The White House more than a week ago predicted 100,000 to 240,000 deaths.
An analysis from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) now predicts significantly fewer people will die from COVID-19 compared to its previous estimates.
The model tracking the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, which has been cited by the White House, predicted last week more than 83,000 people would die from COVID-19 by August, even with current social distancing measures in place through May.
The same model, which was most recently updated Wednesday, now estimates more than 60,400 deaths by Aug. 4.
The analysis also shows the peak demand for hospital services is now expected to come by April 11, a change from its previous estimate of April 15. The peak of daily deaths has also been moved forward to April 12, and the size of the peak dropped to just more than 2,200 deaths, as opposed to well above 3,000.
Researchers also lowered the number of expected hospital and ICU beds and ventilators needed on the peak date of resource usage for April 11. The analysis estimates a hospital bed shortage of nearly 16,000 nationwide and a shortage of just more than 9,000 ICU beds. The data show more than 16,500 ventilators will be needed.
The White House coronavirus task force announced more than a week ago that 100,000-240,000 people could die from COVID-19, with a key member of the task force saying that’s “if we do things almost perfectly.”
CNN reports a key factor driving the White House’s estimate was an assumption that only 50 percent of Americans would practice the government’s social distancing guidelines. Meanwhile, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said this week roughly 90 percent are adhering to the guidelines.
Adams said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” he “absolutely” expects the number of COVID-19 deaths to fall short of the White House coronavirus task force’s estimates as Americans continue to adhere to social distancing measures.
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Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), discussed the 50 percent social distancing participation assumption with Tucson radio station KVOI Monday.
“Those models that were done, they assumed that only about 50 percent of the American public would pay attention to the recommendations. In fact, it would seem, a large majority of the American public are taking the social distancing recommendations to heart — and I think that’s the direct consequence of why you’re seeing the numbers are going to be much, much, much, much lower than would’ve been predicted by the models,” Redfield said.
The White House coronavirus task force based their estimates of deaths on a number of models from public health arms at top U.S. universities, as well as the CDC.
Nearly 400,000 confirmed cases have been recorded in the U.S. with nearly 13,000 deaths.
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