Another Information Source

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March 30, 2020 3:18 p.m.

Here is an interesting data source projecting the scope and duration of the epidemic across the United States and within each individual state. I cannot speak to the accuracy or methodology. I am pointing it out to you because it’s the work of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, a research center attached to the University of Washington School of Medicine. In other words, these are credentialed, serious people. Whether they’re correct I cannot say. And I pass it on on that basis.

The approach in this projection isn’t so much cases and patients. It’s focused on hospital capacity – beds, ICU beds, ventilators etc., how many there are and how many will be needed. It does project estimated numbers of fatalities.

The big surprise to me in these numbers is that it projects the peak of the epidemic in most states not that much later than it is projected in New York. So for instance, in New York it projects the peak around April 10th. Michigan is just a day later on the 11th. Colorado and Massachusetts, April 16th. North Carolina on the 21st. Georgia, the 23rd. Some states are significantly later. Florida is around May 5th. Missouri around May 15th.

One note on numbers. The model gives ranges – so between x and y people are projected to die over such and such a period. They also note the mid-point of those ranges. Here I’m referencing that mid-point number.

I should emphasize that the fact that these models are surprising to me means nothing. Whether these folks are right or wrong, they’re knowledgable and I’m not. What I will say is that if this is an accurate modeling of the epidemic, it suggests a timeline in most of the country not much beyond the arc for New York. It also suggests that New York isn’t just first but that most other states won’t ever be hit as bad.

For example, this model shows New York state hitting a peak of almost 800 fatalities a day around April 10th. California, a much larger state, maxes out at around 100 a day about three weeks later. Illinois gets to 84. Massachusetts, 80. Texas, 101. Obviously these are very different sized states. But it gives you some broad sense of scale.

This suggests New York will always be the worst hit state. Whether that is true or not I have no idea. It surprises me and if true heartens me because it suggests a national toll less than I would have assumed.

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