New Projection - PA COVID Peak Could be Lower than Expected, if Public Does its Part & Stays Home
SEATTLE WA (APR 2 2020) -- An updated model from the University of Washington estimates that, if the entire state faithfully follows the Governor's stay-at-home orders, practices physical distancing, and employs the personal hygiene recommendations to stem the rate of COVID-19 infections, Pennsylvania could see a lower than anticipated peak of daily new cases and deaths as soon as April 18. According to projections from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington (IHME), Pennsylvania’s novel coronavirus cases are expected to peak April 18, with 7,428 hospital beds needed, 1,043 of them in the ICU, and 994 patients on ventilators. According to the Pennsylvania Secretary of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania has about 37,000 hospital beds, 3,400 ICU units, and around 2,000 ventilators. The IHME study says Pennsylvania has about 14,000 beds and 1,100 ICUs. The IHME projections, recently referenced in a White House press briefing as the "Chris Murray Model", predict demand for hospital services in each state. The IHME model for Pennsylvania is significantly more optimistic than the University of Pittsburgh "FRED" model which the Pennsylvania Department of health uses to evaluate the Commonwealth's anticipated needs in responding to the novel coronavirus outbreak. The FRED model predicted 100,000 hospitalizations in Pennsylvania, which will seriously overwhelm available health care assets in the state. The IHME study does not project total cases, but says Pennsylvania will have about 2,000 deaths total through the end of July, with the model showing deaths could be between about 1,000 and 3,600. The Washington model offers a range of projections, indicating that the peak hospitalizations in Pennsylvania could top 14,000 by mid-April. The community response to the stay-at-home rules will be one of the major factors in the actual outcome, according to Don Seiple. President. St. Lukeʼs University Health Network's Monroe Campus. Seiple is “confident today that we have plans in place to care for the patients" expected to require treatment over the next couple of weeks, he told The Boro* in an exclusive interview yesterday. "But," Seiple warned, "the community has a part to play in this. If people continue to act as though this is not real, that is isn’t here in the area, they will overwhelm health care facilities. They have a responsibility in this public health emergency to do their part.” Seiple warned that the actual number of cases in Monroe County are much higher than the cases acknowledged by the Department of Health. He said there are two main reasons for this, one is that "the testing pipeline is constrained", meaning that there is a lag of up to 7 to 10 days for results to be returned, and that health care organizations do not have the testing capacity to test everyone with symptoms. This means, Seiple told The Boro*, that symptomatic patients with moderate illness, are sent home to self-isolate and are not tested. An important factor in the under count, Seiple said, is that the Department of Health does not include positive cases in Monroe County if the patient's residence is outside the county. This means that a New York resident with a second home here is not included in the state numbers. Seipel says that his hospital has seen a significant number of non-residents testing positive or presenting with COVID symptoms. State Senator Mario Scavello told The Boro* that, based on his communications with Monroe County health providers, the actual county total is as much as 40% higher than the Department of Health figures. The latest official numbers released yesterday by the state Department of Health, acknowledged 278 cases in Monroe County and 5,805 statewide. According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, Pennsylvania had 6,063 cases as of 7:40 am this morning.