ORLANDO, Fla. – The latest coronavirus predictions models for Florida show that the state could be two weeks closer to experiencing the worst of the pandemic now that the Floridians should be observing a stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Ron DeSantis that began Friday.
The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has been creating projections based on local responses around the world to the coronavirus pandemic, including whether state leaders have enacted travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders. The projections are updated weekly.
Now that Florida has begun observing a stay-at-home order, the models have changed again, showing Florida may see a peak in coronavirus cases closer to late-April instead of the beginning of May like previous models showed before the stay-at-home order started.
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According to the forecast, by April 21 Florida will see 239 deaths per day and by August more than 6,700 people in Florida will die from complications due to COVID-19 with more than 200 people a day dying beginning in mid-April.
Orange County health officer Dr. Raul Pino, with the Florida Department of Health, said models will change every time new data is entered. As of Monday the peak is slated for late April but he said residents cannot let their guard down even after Florida sees the worst.
“Other places have seen multiple peaks,” Pino warned.
Another number to watch is the number of positive tests per rate of tests.
“If you continue to do the same number of tests and the rate (of positive) tests declines, that might mean we have a decline,” Pino said.
That’s why the next two weeks are critical, Pino said, because Florida hasn’t seen the worst yet.
Previous models had shown a peak in Florida with 136 deaths a day.
The IHME models take into account resources that the state has including hospital beds, ICU beds and ventilators. The most recent forecast shows that by April 21, that state will begin to use the maximum amount of resources needed including ICU beds and ventilators to combat the virus.
Last week, Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration began releasing data showing available hospital and ICU beds around the state and making those numbers public to help determine what resources will be needed in the weeks to come.
The agency created a dashboard that shows hospital bed availability totals, including ICU beds, at both the county and hospital level. According to the information available at the time of this report, more than 43% of Florida’s 60,200 plus hospital beds are available. The numbers are updated hourly by the AHCA.
According to the IHME models, Florida will need more than 2,095 ventilators at the peak of the virus. Florida AHCA has not provided a count of ventilators.
It should be noted that the models are subject to change as more policies are put into place to slow the spread and the university models also assume that communities are observing social distancing-- remaining 6 feet away from others in public and not gathering in large groups.
To learn more about the IHME COVID-19 models, including the methods to produce the projections, click here.