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Model forecasts late-April COVID-19 death peak, 80 deaths a day

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(The Center Square) – New projections released this week by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluations forecasts North Carolina reach its peak for daily COVID-19 deaths in late April.

IHME, an independent health population research center at the University of Washington Medicine, said its model shows North Carolina will reach a high of 80 COVID-19 deaths a day on April 23. It forecasts 2,537 COVID-19 deaths in the state by Aug. 4.

The model shows North Carolina also will reach a hospital-resource-use peak on April 23, when 7,987 hospital beds are predicted to be needed, including 1,192 intensive care unit beds. IHME says North Carolina has 7,125 hospital beds available, resulting in a shortage 862 hospital beds. The state has 567 ICU beds, which would result in a shortage of 625 ICU beds.

To develop a statistical model forecasting deaths and hospital utilization versus capacity over the next four months, IHME used data on confirmed COVID-19 deaths by day from the World Health Organization and local and national governments and data on hospital capacity and utilization. It also observed COVID-19 utilization data from select locations.

Nationally, IHME forecasts 83,967 deaths by Aug. 4, reaching a peak of 2,214 deaths on April 15. At the national peak, IHME’s model shows the U.S. will have a hospital bed shortage of 54,046 beds, including a shortage of 13,856 ICU beds.

“In addition to a large number of deaths from COVID-19, the epidemic in the U.S. will place a load well beyond the current capacity of hospitals to manage, especially for ICU care,” IHME Director Christopher J.L. Murray said. “These estimates can help inform the development and implementation of strategies to mitigate this gap, including reducing non-COVID-19 demand for services and temporarily increasing system capacity.”

IHME said the projections also are based on the assumption of continued strong social distancing and other protective measures.

Gov. Roy Cooper issued a statewide stay-at-home order Friday that lasts through April 29.

As of Tuesday morning, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 1,498 COVID-19 cases in the state — including eight deaths — and 157 hospitalizations.

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus. The disease has caused at least 3,400 deaths in the U.S., with more than 174,000 confirmed cases in the country. COVID-19 symptoms appear within two to 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, runny nose and difficulty breathing.

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