By Joshua Huff, sports editor
Epidemiologists at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation have predicted that more than 80,000 people will die in the US over the next four months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The study, which is based upon statistics provided by the World Health Organization, local and federal governments and data from hospitals across the nation, forecasts that a shortage of ventilators, supplies and hospital beds will play a vital role in increasing the numbers of deaths in the coming months – The study also takes current policies on social distancing into account.
The researchers state that “the epidemic in the US will place a load well beyond the current capacity of hospitals to manage, especially for ICU care.”
The models predict that the date of peak excess by state varies from the second week of April through May with a national shortage of more than 64,000 hospital beds and more than 19,000 ventilators. Researchers estimate that there will be 81,114 deaths throughout the nation over the next four months with more than 2,341 deaths per day at the pandemic’s peak projected on April 14, 2020.
Deaths from COVID-19 are estimated to drop below 10 deaths per day between May 31 and June 6, researchers add.
Researchers also have created state-by-state projections based upon of hospital resource usage and deaths. In Alabama, the models predict that there will be 37 deaths during the pandemic’s highest peak around April 24, 2020. The total COVID-19 deaths in Alabama are projected to amount to 1,155 through Aug. 4. Currently, Alabama’s death toll sits at three with those deaths coming within the past week.
The death toll predictions from the epidemiologists at UW’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has a 95% confidence interval of 7,977 to 251,059 deaths. They add that further travel restrictions, a limit on demand for medical procedures not related to the coronavirus, increase system capacity and social distancing policies are necessary to mitigate the damage in states that have yet to take those additional steps.
“In addition to a large number of deaths from COVID-19, the epidemic in the US will place a load well beyond the current capacity of hospitals to manage, especially for ICU care. These estimates can help inform the development and implementation of strategies to mitigate this gap, including reducing non-COVID-19 demand for services and temporarily increasing system capacity. These are urgently needed given that peak volumes are estimated to be only three weeks away. The estimated excess demand on hospital systems is predicated on the enactment of social distancing measures in all states that have not done so already within the next week and maintenance of these measures throughout the epidemic, emphasizing the importance of implementing, enforcing, and maintaining these measures to mitigate hospital system overload and prevent deaths.”