IHME Increases Coronavirus Death Projections by 9%: Biggest Upticks in NY, MA, PA, GA

Nurse Canan Emcan shows a test kit for coronavirus samples at the isolation ward of the Uniklinikum Essen university hospital in Essen, western Germany, on March 9, 2020. - The number of coronavirus cases in Germany has passed 1,000, official data from the Robert Koch Institute disease control centre showed. …
INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images

The Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) released an update to its model on Tuesday that increases the number of projected deaths from coronavirus in the United States to 65,976, up nine percent from the April 17 update projection of 60,308.

New York State saw the biggest increase in projected deaths in the April 21 update of the model, with 1,929 more coronavirus deaths projected (23,741) as compared to 21,812 projected in the April 17 update. As of April 22, 15,302 deaths from the virus have been reported in the state, according to the New York State Department of Health.

Other significant increases in death projections were in Massachusetts, which increased by 662 to 3,898 from 3,236; Pennsylvania, which increased by 616 to 2,323 from 1,707; and Georgia, which increased by 612 to 1,981 from 1,369.

The new projections were released one day after several states — South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, and Texas — announced plans to begin reopening their states by May 1.

The IHME model pushed the “safe” date to begin reopening Georgia back four days, from June 15 to June 19. In South Carolina, that date was pushed back from June 1 to June 5, and in Texas, it was pushed back from June 1 to June 7.  In Tennessee, the date was moved up from May 25 to May 20.

IHME noted in its April 17 update that “initial estimates that can serve as an input to [considerations by government officials] … when certain types of distancing policies may be eased” are ” based on when the upper bound of the 95% uncertainty interval for all-age COVID-19 prevalent infections falls below 1 per 1,000,000.”

According to the update accompanying the release of the model’s projection on Tuesday:

Today’s release involves the second iteration of projecting when states may be able to consider easing currently implemented social distancing policies – if and only if – strong containment measures already have been instituted. …

Estimates from today’s release suggest that 30 states may fall below the 1 prevalent case per 1,000,000 threshold during May (greens to the light yellow in the map below). As further detailed in the April 17 update, this threshold is considered a conservative estimate of the number of COVID-19 infections that states could reasonably identify via active case detection and contact tracing.

Current trajectories indicate that 12 states may need to wait until at least June 8 or beyond that time before they fall below the 1 prevalent infection per 1,000,000 threshold. These projections could change as new data become available or different policies are implemented.

Results from today’s release indicate these projected “threshold” dates are, on average, later than those released on April 17. Arizona, Florida, Kansas, and North Dakota had the largest shifts to later dates. The main driver of these later predictions is the increase in reported deaths since the last release, as well as predictions of longer (and flatter) epidemic peaks for several states.

As Breitbart News reported, the April 17 update of the IHME model expanded the social distancing assumptions used in projections:

The Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) released an updated version of its coronavirus model on Friday that added two more “one size fits all” assumptions about the effectiveness of government imposed social distancing restrictions on all 50 states.

The IHME model now includes “six categories of social distancing policies,” four which have been included since the March 30 update (stay-at-home orders, educational facilities closed, non-essential services closed, and travel severely limited), and two of which were added in the model released on Saturday (mass gathering restrictions and initial business closure). …

The latest version of the model is designed to influence the dates governors choose to reopen their states by “expanding categories of social distancing policies and accounting for mobility,” according to the update provided by the IHME with the release on Friday of new projections.

The IHME model has been criticized for vastly overstating projected hospital capacity requirements. Its death projections have also dropped dramatically from a high of 93,765 as reported in its April 1 update to the April 21 update of 65,976.

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