Montana COVID-19 model updated, fewer deaths forecast

Posted at 12:38 PM, Apr 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-06 19:58:56-04

The projection for Montana COVID-19 cases and hospital impact is looking better.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluatio n (IMHE) at the University of Washington has scaled back the projected number of hospital beds needed and the number of COVID-19 related deaths in Montana.

This model is being used by the White House Coronavirus Task Force for national and statewide projections. It was designed to help hospitals and local governments plan and give them an idea on how many resources they might need and when the peak of the virus may affect their community.

On Monday, the model shows the number of projected deaths in Montana falls dramatically from 268 to 22. It also shows the peak resource need for hospitals moved from April 26 to April 13. The early projection showed Montana would come up short for number of ICU beds needed. The updated report shows that shortfall is no longer projected.

The projected number of deaths in Wyoming have gone down from 144 to 119. Wyoming is still projected to come up short of ICU beds by 8.

IHME reports it has been able to incorporate more data sources, including state government reporting from a substantially larger sample. The revised forecasts reflect “a massive infusion of new data,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, Director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine. New data on COVID-19 health service use from multiple US states, including New York, Massachusetts, Georgia, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Florida, and California, has led to revisions down in estimated need to deal with the pandemic.
In addition, estimation of the likely peak of the epidemic in each state has been strengthened by epidemics peaking after social distancing

“As we obtain more data and more precise data, the forecasts we at IHME created have become more accurate,” Murray said. “And these projections are vital to health planners, policymakers, and anyone else associated with caring for those affected by and infected with the coronavirus.”

As for the peak forecast for the United States coming in the next couple of weeks, the IMHE model suggests April 15. However, that projection is heavily weighted toward the more populous areas that are expected to peak sooner. New York state, for instance, is forecast to peak around April 9. The current projection is for 81,000 COVID-19 related deaths in the U.S.

The IHME reports projections are trending down for deaths and hospital resource needs across the country with a few exceptions. The peak date for hospital resource use remains April 15.

RELATED: Model pins late April for peak hospital use for COVID-19 in Montana, Wyoming