Database predicts virus peak, preparedness

Published 3:09 pm Saturday, April 11, 2020

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According to data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), Kentucky is well equipped for its peak of the novel coronavirus, but still, thousands more are likely to die from the virus.

IHME is an independent global health center at the University of Washington. 

The center created a database detailing COVID-19 projections, including demand for hospital services and deaths per day, in the U.S. assuming full social distancing through May 2020.

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“Our model is designed to be a planning tool, and is informed by the shape that other COVID-19 outbreaks are taking, in terms of deaths, around the world and across the US,” researchers wrote. “The data being used in these forecasts come from local and national governments, hospital networks like the University of Washington, the American Hospital Association, the World Health Organization, and a range of other sources. The model is updated regularly as new data are available, in order to provide the most up-to-date planning tool possible.”

According to the database, Kentucky has about 43 days until it reaches its peak resource use, projected for May 16. At that date, the state will need about 1,574 of its available 6,210 beds, including 236 of its 448 ICU beds. Additionally, about 188 invasive ventilators will likely be needed at that time.

Kentucky is projected to reach its peak deaths per day around May 13, when we will likely have about 15 COVID-19 deaths per day, according to the database.

The database projects that by August, Kentucky will have at least 821 virus-related deaths. The projection for deaths ranges from 150 to 1,802 in Kentucky.

As of April 8, there have been 73 deaths related to the virus, and 1,346 positive cases in Kentucky.

In the U.S. COVID-19 deaths are predicted to peak on April 16, when IHME predicts 2,607 deaths in a single day.

Also on April 16, the U.S. is predicted to reach its peak hospital use, when 262,092 hospital beds, including 39,727 ICU beds, and 31,782 ventilators will be needed to support COVID-19 patients. The database indicates the U.S. will be short more than 87,000 hospital beds, including nearly 20,000 ICU beds.

The center predicts 93,765 virus-related deaths in the U.S.

“These estimates assume the strong continuation of statewide social distancing measures in places where they are already enacted, and future adoption within the next seven days in states without them,” researchers wrote. “If such policies are relaxed or not implemented, the US could experience a higher COVID-19 death toll and hospital burden than what our models currently predict.”

In some neighboring states, the situation looks more dire than in Kentucky.

In Tennessee, where preventative measures were taken later than in Kentucky, the peak is expected to come sooner, and there will likely be more deaths and shortages of resources.

According to the database, Tennessee will reach its peak resource use April 19, when it will be short more than 7,800 beds, including 1,799 ICU beds. The state will need at least 1,943 invasive ventilators for COVID-19 patients.

Tennessee’s peak in deaths per day is predicted for April 20, when the state will see 165 deaths in a single day.

Overall, 3,422 deaths are predicted in Tennessee by August.

Researchers believe the data drives home the need for preventative measures, namely social distancing.

“Our model suggests that, with social distancing, the end of the first wave of the epidemic could occur by early June,” the researchers wrote. “The question of whether there will be a second wave of the epidemic will depend on what we do to avoid reintroducing COVID-19 into the population.”

About Whitney Leggett

Whitney Leggett is managing editor of The Winchester Sun and Winchester Living magazine. To contact her, email or call 859-759-0049.

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