SEATTLE — A new data-driven model from the University of Washington predicts the United States will peak in the number of "active" coronavirus cases on or around April 20.
“This indicates an important turning point that each country will reach in the COVID-19 pandemic, and we predict that the United States is on course to reach this point in the coming weeks,” said Ka-Kit Tung, a professor of applied mathematics at the UW. “It is a point of maximum strain on a country’s health and medical infrastructure.”
For the U.S., the UW model predicts the rate of daily new COVID-19 cases already peaked on April 5-7.
The number of "active" COVID-19 cases, which are people who have been diagnosed but haven't recovered or died, will peak on or within a few days of April 20, according to the model, and then slowly decline as the number of cases entering the medical system becomes less than the number of cases leaving the system.
The model also predicts the U.S. outbreak will taper off in the first week of June with projections of 710,000 total coronavirus cases, but that number could go up to 990,000 and 28,000 deaths.
According to the predictions, the number of deaths could go up to 39,000 if the current U.S. fatality rate of 4% holds.
The confirmed number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. was more than 501,000 as of Saturday, April 11, according to the count by Johns Hopkins University. There have been over 18,000 deaths in the U.S. and 29,000 recoveries.
The new model provided by UW is intended to help health officials and policymakers see at least two weeks in advance how COVID-19 will likely strain medical infrastructure in the U.S. and around the world.
Norden Huang and Fangli Qiao, both from the First Institute of Oceanography’s Data Analysis Laboratory in Qingdao, China, created the model with Tung.
It relies on the number of newly diagnosed cases and the number of individuals who have recovered or died in a geographic region.
Scientists at the UW’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation have created a separate data-driven model for COVID-19, which relies on other pieces of information about the pandemic, such as observed death rates.
In contrast, this new model from UW uses the number of newly diagnosed cases and the number of individuals who have recovered or died.
The Institute’s model primarily projects COVID-19 deaths in a region, as well as the demand for hospital resources such as ventilators, according to a release from the UW.
“Our two approaches complement one another, providing the projections that health officials and governments need to understand when the maximum strain on resources is coming, and to show how the course of the pandemic depends heavily on the level of social distancing measures adopted,” said Tung.
Gov. Jay Inslee has extended his "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order through May 4, 2020, in an effort to keep the spread of coronavirus as slow as possible.
On Friday, he and other leaders of major tourist cities made a plea for people to stay home and keep social distancing, even as the weather in western Washington gets nicer and people will be more apt to go out.
As of Friday, April 10, the state of Washington has 9,887 cases of coronavirus, including 475 deaths.