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UW model pushes back timeline to relax social distancing in Washington

A projection model from the University of Washington suggests the state may need to wait until the end of May to relax social distancing guidelines.

The latest prediction from the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has pushed back the date for when social distancing measures could begin to be relaxed.

The previous model showed Washington state could consider easing social distancing guidelines the week of May 18.

As of Wednesday, the model shows "after May 26, 2020, relaxing social distancing may be possible with containment strategies that include testing, contact tracing, isolation, and limiting gathering size."

Credit: UW Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation
A projection model released on April 22, 2020 from the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projects relaxing social distancing in Washington state may be possible with containment strategies on May 26.

On April 6, 46 people died from coronavirus – the most per day in the state since the outbreak began. On April 20, another 25 people died in Washington state. As of Wednesday, the model projects deaths may plateau in mid-May.

RELATED: UW professor warns against reopening Washington state too soon amid coronavirus pandemic

The primary purpose of the IHME model is to forecast healthcare needs. According to the model, peak resource use occurred on April 5.

Public health officials have said testing, including antibody testing to check for previous COVID-19 exposure, contact tracing to track close contacts of infected people, and availability of treatments, including a coronavirus vaccine, will all need to be in place before the state can return to normal.

Officials have also said the number of daily new cases and hospitalizations need to decrease for at least two weeks before lifting restrictions.

RELATED: Gov. Inslee vows to work with California, Oregon governors to reopen economy

Gov. Jay Inslee laid out a plan for recovery during an address Tuesday, saying Washington state’s return to public life will take place gradually, and only when the state has access to rapid testing and response, enough protective supplies for the public.

Inslee said that many restrictions will likely stay in place through May 4, though some industries may be ready to come back soon.

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