Florida may not see peak of COVID-19 infections until early May, study shows

State may see up to 136 deaths per day

(AP Photo/Ariel Schalit) (Ariel Schalit, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Two weeks ago, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said the “worst is yet to come” when he was asked about the economic and health impacts the coronavirus will have on the United States. Turns out, new studies project that he could be right.

A new study is predicting that although the coronavirus is expected to peak in the U.S. in two weeks, many states will see their individual peaks well after that, according to a model by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

States’ coronavirus peaks are defined as the point at which there is the most demand for resources, namely hospital beds and ventilators. This is also the point at which most health care workers will be needed to care for coronavirus patients.

IHME and Axios partnered to synthesize data on confirmed COVID-19 deaths by day from WHO websites and local and national governments. Their information also includes data on hospital capacity and utilization for U.S. states and observed COVID-19 utilization data from select locations to develop a statistical model forecasting deaths and hospital utilization against capacity in each state for the U.S. over the next four months.

Based on these statistics, the U.S. is projected to reach its peak of resource necessity and infections on April 14, with a projected shortage of over 61,000 hospital beds, over 115,000 intensive care unit beds, and nearly 27,000 ventilators. At that peak, the nation could see 2,214 deaths per day.

The study hypothesizes Florida won’t see its peak in infection and resource demand until May 3, with an estimated shortage of 843 intensive care unit beds and 2,029 ventilators. At this peak, Florida may see 136 deaths per day as a result of the pandemic.

[CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: Interactive map shows Florida cities with coronavirus cases]

The purpose of this study was not to scare, but to predict patterns of infections and resource consumption. States like Virginia and Maryland, with projected peak dates of May 17 and 14 respectively, have more time to prepare for their systems to be maximally strained, if they make good use of that time, according to researchers.

“The states that are going to be affected last need to start husbanding resources now, because the feds could get tapped out...by some of these early states, particularly New York, which has absorbed a lot of federal resources,” former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said.

An abstract published by IHME researchers said that 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.

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About the Author:

Erin began her career at News 6 as an assignment editor, then became a show producer. She is now a digital storyteller as part of the Click Orlando team.