Unpredictable Human Behavior Just One Of Many Complicated Factors To Consider When Trying To Predict Deaths
The model that the White House has been relying on for number of cases and deaths was just updated to slightly more optimistic totals for the first wave of the outbreak. But other models contradict that outlook. Why is modeling so hard? Scientists have to take a number of unpredictable and unknowable factors into account. Still, they say, "it's much better than shooting from the hip." Meanwhile, the number of deaths in the U.S. surpasses 10,000.
The Washington Post:
America’s Most Influential Coronavirus Model Just Revised Its Estimates Downward. But Not Every Model Agrees.
A leading forecasting model used by the White House to chart the coronavirus pandemic predicted Monday that the United States may need fewer hospital beds, ventilators and other equipment than previously projected and that some states may reach their peak of covid-19 deaths sooner than expected. ... Experts and state leaders, however, continued to steel themselves for grim weeks ahead, noting that the revised model created by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington conflicts with many other models showing higher equipment shortages, deaths and projected peaks. (Wan and Johnson, 4/6)
The Associated Press:
Modeling Coronavirus: 'Uncertainty Is The Only Certainty'
So how does modeling work? Take everything we know about how the coronavirus is spreading, when it’s deadly and when it’s not, when symptoms show and when they don’t. Then factor in everything we know about how people are reacting, social distancing, stay-at-home orders and other squishy human factors. Now add everything we know about testing, treating the disease and equipment shortages. Finally, mix in large dollops of uncertainty at every level. Squeeze all those thousands of data points into incredibly complex mathematical equations and voila, here’s what’s going to happen next with the pandemic. Except, remember, there’s a huge margin of error: For the prediction of U.S. deaths, the range is larger than the population of Wilmington, Delaware. (Borenstein and Johnson, 4/7)
CDC Director Downplays Coronavirus Models, Says Death Toll Will Be 'Much Lower' Than Projected
One of the nation’s top public health officials suggested Monday that because Americans are taking social distancing recommendations “to heart,” the death toll from the novel coronavirus will be “much, much, much lower” than models have projected. “If we just social distance, we will see this virus and this outbreak basically decline, decline, decline. And I think that's what you're seeing,” said Robert Redfield, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control. (Meek and Bruggeman, 4/6)
The Wall Street Journal:
U.S. Death Toll From Coronavirus Tops 10,000
The U.S. coronavirus death toll surpassed 10,000 at the start of a week that officials predicted would be America’s most difficult yet during the global pandemic, while the crisis in Britain deepened as the prime minister was moved to intensive care. Confirmed infections in the U.S. were more than double that of any other nation, at nearly 357,000, with the death toll at 10,783, according to data Monday from Johns Hopkins University. (Calfas, Ping and Kostov, 4/6)
Behind The Global Efforts To Make A Privacy-First Coronavirus Tracking App
In a Google Doc that now stretches beyond 20 pages, software engineers and health experts are working out what they hope can be a way for the world to soon return to something resembling normal life. "What's the minimum duration of contact that we should consider important?" an engineer asked. It's one of many crucial questions from engineers who believe smartphone technology could be the key to creating a way to anonymously track the spread of the coronavirus — and by doing so help save lives and get people back to their jobs and social lives. (Ingram and Ward, 4/7)
The New York Times:
Does My County Have An Epidemic? Estimates Show Hidden Transmission
As the coronavirus spreads silently through American cities and towns, people are struggling with questions about the benefits of social-distancing guidelines — especially in places that still have few reported cases. Is the epidemic here yet? Is staying home and limiting contact with others really worth the trouble? A new study by disease modelers at the University of Texas at Austin gives an answer: Even counties with just a single reported case have more than 50 percent likelihood that a sustained, undetected outbreak — an epidemic — is already taking place. (Glanz, Bloch and Singhvi, 4/3)