Coronavirus could infect up to 750,000 people in North Carolina by the end of May if social distancing policies are not extended after April, predictions released by scientists at Duke and UNC-Chapel on Monday Hill.
The forecast, which is the combination of three models, predicts that 250,000 people in North Carolina could be infected if social distancing policies were extended throughout the month of May. Governor Roy Cooper instituted a stay order until April 29. Many local governments have also implemented restrictions.
The model is not an official product of Duke or UNC, but of individual scientists who have worked to help the state. It was developed with the help of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, NoviSci and RTI International, in addition to universities.
“Maintaining some form of social distancing policies such as those currently in place will give us the best chance of ensuring that our health system has enough capacity to manage COVID-related infections. We have shown that the complete lifting of all social distancing policies after April 29 results in a much higher probability, by 50%, that the ICU and ICU capacity of hospitals will be exceeded, “said Aaron McKethan, founder and CEO of NoviSci, and a senior executive. political scholar and adjustment professor at Duke.
McKethan was clear that those behind the model were not making policy recommendations, recognizing the challenges for people and the economy to maintain social distance.
“We neither recommend nor suggest that current policies can or should stay in place indefinitely. What we are doing is providing political decision makers with meteorological information such as helping them to make these important trade-offs between caring for public health and doing it in a way that allows the state to reopen very gradually. ” he declared.
There are currently more than 2,900 confirmed cases of coronavirus in North Carolina and more than 35 people have died from the disease. The first state case was reported on March 2.
The model suggests that there is a more than 50% chance of exceeding the capacity of hospitals and intensive care if social distancing policies are not extended beyond their current date in late April. If current or similar policies have been adopted beyond their current end date, this probability drops to around 20%.
The model did not predict any deaths in the state due to the virus.
The population of North Carolina is approximately 10.5 million. If 250,000 people have been infected, this represents 2.4% of the state’s population. If 750,000 people have been infected, this represents about 7.1% of the state’s population.
The state projection comes as a model created by researchers at the University of Washington has dramatically reduced the number of deaths it predicts in North Carolina. Researchers at the school’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation now estimate that around 500 people will die from COVID-19 in North Carolina, up from more than 2,400 they predicted just a week ago and half.