When will coronavirus peak in NC? New model projects fewer deaths


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The latest version of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) coronavirus model has lowered the number of projected deaths in the state.

According to the latest projections, North Carolina is seven days away from its peak use of hospital resources. The IHME projects North Carolina will only need 1,361 hospital beds and 258 ICU beds to care for COVID-19 patients. No shortage is projected by the IHME.

The IHME projects a peak of 30 deaths per day in North Carolina on April 15, 2020. A total of 496 deaths are now projected by August 4, 2020. 

The previous version of the IHME model projected more than 2,500 deaths in North Carolina with a peak of 80 per day.

Nationally, the IHME projects 81,766 deaths from the virus across the country. A peak of 3,130 deaths per day is projected on April 16. The previous version of the model projected 93,531 deaths.

The model still projects a national shortage of 36,654 hospital beds and 16,323 ICU beds.

The IHME is part of the University of Washington’s School of Medicine.

Dr. Christopher Murray, Director of the IHME, said the revised forecasts reflect “a massive infusion of new data.” 

“As we obtain more data and more precise data, the forecasts we at IHME created have become more accurate,” Murray said. “And these projections are vital to health planners, policymakers, and anyone else associated with caring for those affected by and infected with the coronavirus.”  

According to the IHME, projecting the epidemic in each state depends on predicting the peak. One week ago, the only place that had experienced a peak was Wuhan City. The group says impact of social distancing is now much clearer, as seven European regions have seen a peak in daily deaths as well. Those seven locations are Madrid, Spain; Castile-La Mancha, Spain; Tuscany, Italy; Emilia-Romagna, Italy; Liguria, Italy; Piedmont, Italy; and Lombardy, Italy. 

Murray, however, cautioned that, “As we noted previously, the trajectory of the pandemic will change – and dramatically for the worse – if people ease up on social distancing or relax with other precautions. Our projections are strengthened by the new downturns in more regions. This is evidence that social distancing is crucial. Our forecasts assume that social distancing remains in place until the end of May.

As of April 6, there are 2,870 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina with 270 currently hospitalized. Thirty-three people have died from the virus. 

Click here to learn more about how the researchers are forecasting COVID-19.

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