Projected US Deaths From COVID-19 Drop 33,000 in Model Over Two Updates

April 8, 2020 Updated: April 8, 2020

A major model frequently cited by policymakers ordering lockdowns and other measures in a bid to curb COVID-19 is now projecting 60,415 deaths in the United States from the new disease, a drop of over 33,000 in just two updates.

Modelers at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) published the updated model on April 8, two days day after they made a significant revision.

The peak of daily deaths in the United States is now predicted to take place on April 12, a move from April 16, with peak hospitalizations occurring on April 11. The total predicted deaths dropped in total from 93,531 to 60,415.

Modelers also continued moving down the projected needed hospital resources. Only 94,249 hospital beds will be needed on the peak date, along with 19,438 intensive care unit beds and 16,524 ventilators, they predict.

Those three figures dropped from 262,092 beds, 39,727 ICU beds, and 31,782 ventilators in a version of the model published late last week and from 140,823 hospital beds, 29,210 ICU beds, and 24,828 ventilators in the update made earlier this week.

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Paramedics take a patient into a hospital during the outbreak of the CCP virus in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, New York on April 7, 2020. (Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters)

IHME has received criticism for repeatedly overestimating a number of projections, including the predicted hospitalizations.

Modelers in a note appended to the latest update attributed the downgraded projections to “massive fluctuations” in the number of COVID-19 deaths reported each day by some states in America.

The new projections “are now based on averaging the last three rounds of predictions. In other words, what is shown today (April 7) is the average of model predictions from reported COVID-19 death data up to April 4 (model 1), data up to April 5 (model 2), and data up to April 7 (model 3),” they wrote.

“We view this as an important refinement that helps to strengthen model stability and buffer predictions from data fluctuations less related to observed epidemic patterns and more driven by variable data collection or reporting practices.”

Top officials have cited IHME’s projections, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Dr. Deborah Birx, response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

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