But the main model used by the White House and just about everyone was updated Wednesday to show far fewer expected deaths in the United States from Covid-19 – up to 60,415 people in August, up from 82,000 the model shown Tuesday (which was already lower). than previous projections).
New data on the trajectory of the pandemic – from the United States and around the world – were introduced into the model almost daily, causing the changes. And the downward adjustment suggests that social distancing works better than expected in some places.
What it means for the next few months
CNN asked a few key questions of Dr. Gregory Roth, one of the senior professors at the Institute of Metrology and Health Assessment at the University of Washington, about the new modeling. The conversation, conducted via Zoom and slightly modified for the feed, is below:
CNN: The IHME model moved down for the second time in two weeks. Why does this happen and what does it mean exactly?
GR: Our model is designed to be updated frequently to ensure that we make the best use of all available data. This pandemic has evolved very quickly and, as data sources change, we want to include them in our forecasts as soon as possible. Updates to the model reflect the most recent data available on the number of deaths from the source we use, which comes from Johns Hopkins University, as well as all available data on the relationship between deaths and hospitalizations, the use of beds in ICU and the number of fans required.
CNN: The model assumes social distance. Does the fact that the numbers have dropped twice now show that there is more social distancing than expected or is social distancing itself more effective than expected?
GR: The model has always assumed that social distancing has an impact on the number of deaths we expect. He also always assumed that every state where social distancing policies had not yet been mandated would be mandated within a week of the date on which we applied this model. The model therefore always predicts based on the assumption that the states will all align themselves behind a policy of broad and aggressive social distancing. However, we certainly take into account that some states have implemented it much earlier than others.
CNN: I think something that could be confusing for a lot of people is that we see this modeling going down – your model in particular – but the death toll continues to rise alarmingly. Can you explain this dynamic and where people should pay attention?
GR: Thus, changes in the model are driven by new data and improved methods, particularly around the estimation of forecast uncertainty. As we receive more data on the deaths of Covid-19, we expect our projections to adjust to follow these new trends. For locations that are still at the start of the epidemic, where there are only a few data points and a low number of deaths from Covid-19, the forecast will be less certain and the range of deaths in the future will be bigger.
CNN: What exactly could bring the model back up? Could it be a relaxation of social distancing measures in certain areas?
GR: So we haven’t yet seen a reduction in social distance in any part of the United States. In the future, if social distancing were relaxed, we would fear a further increase in the number of cases. In fact, one of the most important features of social isolation is that we maintain it long enough to avoid recurrent peaks of the disease. We know that even when cases and deaths decrease in some places, there is still a virus in circulation. And given that social distancing seems to be very successful, we fear that if it were canceled too soon, we would see a second or even additional epidemics after that. Large changes in the model are observed in places where there is a small amount of data. And so we can expect more data to accumulate in places where we currently don’t have a lot of deaths counted, that the quality of these forecasts will improve and may change.
CNN: Based on your modeling, can you give an idea of a timeline that would make sense to relax social distancing measures, or is it just too early to speak in terms of a timeline like this? this?
GR: I think we don’t have enough data yet on this outbreak to know necessarily when it will be safe to roll back the social distance. I think we are all following very closely the news from China that there are places where they are starting to roll back certain aspects of the social distancing policies that have been implemented. But I think a relatively small minority of the general population will end up being exposed and potentially developing immunity, that there will be a very large pool of people without immunity after this first wave. This means that not only social distance has an important role, but many traditional tools in the public health toolkit like surveillance, case identification, contact tracing and all kinds of means that can be used. to try to make sure that we find new cases, as soon as they happen, will be very important to make sure that we don’t see recurrent outbreaks.
CNN: How much should people pay attention to role models? Is this something that you recommend people follow closely?
GR: Forecasts have a range to which it is really important to pay attention. If you are a healthcare planner, you want to be as aware of the upper range of our forecast as the average value. And so there is a lot of uncertainty in our forecast and as a planner, you have to be prepared for the possibility that, in fact, the trend may be at the upper end of the range rather than just in the middle. And so I would first of all like to point out that our forecasts are designed for health care decision makers, policy makers and governments so that they can try to use all of the available evidence in an up-to-date way to take action. good decisions.
Can the US economy reopen by May?
Despite the ever-increasing pandemic, assistants to President Donald Trump have started intensive discussions on a plan to reopen the US economy as early as May, according to people familiar with the deliberations, setting up what some officials foresee could be another confrontation between the health of the president and economic advisers.
Trump has started aggressively touting a potential reversal of the epidemic, although health officials warn that it is too early to declare victory in the fight against coronaviruses. “Flattening the curve!” He wrote on Twitter Wednesday. However, the extent to which Trump can declare the country “reopened” remains limited.
No optimism – New CNN poll shows Americans don’t feel optimistic: 6 in 10 respondents said the economy is in bad shape, up 30 points from last month. This change is the sharpest worsening of the public’s perception of the economy in surveys from 1997.
Another dark sign of the times – Crowds of Floridians lining up to get paper unemployment claims this week after the state’s online and telephone systems were overwhelmed by the number of new unemployed residents. Hundreds of people in South Florida waited for the forms on Tuesday when the Florida Department of Economic Opportunities deployed the option.
Three things to note, from CNN’s Kevin Liptak:
Some Trump advisers believe that rural or smaller cities are reopening in a shorter timeframe and want to focus on the best way to identify these areas. But other members of the team, and Trump himself, appear to be considering a more widespread announcement.
The Coronavirus Task Force has assessed benchmarks that may indicate that a state is ready to relax restrictions on business and assembly, including a sustained 14-day reduction in the number of confirmed cases from normal operations returned to hospitals and tests widely available.
A central obstacle for the administration remains the availability of generalized tests, which Trump’s health experts recognize are still a problem. Many inside the White House fear that the ongoing fight to speed up testing may hamper reopening efforts.