A bit of good news: The number of projected U.S. deaths has dropped by more than 10,000 since last week.

I'm going to be honest with you: This information is not easy to look at. It's important to remember that though these are merely projections and models, the data is indeed leaning towards these outcomes. This is just one organization's prediction, however, and the data is changing on a daily basis. 

** This article has been updated to reflect the most recent data and projections from the IHME, as of April 6. 

Based in Washington state, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) is an independent population health research center that "provides rigorous and comparable measurement of the world's most important health problems and evaluates the strategies used to address them."

And, well, when it comes to health evaluation and strategies, there's no time like the present for an organization like IHME to shine.

Using data from the American Hospital Association, the World Health Organization, hospital networks, local and national governments, and other sources, IHME has created a model forecasting the timeline of the toll that COVID-19 could have on the nation as a whole, as well as individual states. It's important to note that this model's projections are dependent on the assumption that government-mandated social distancing strategies will continue to be in place through May.

United States as a Whole

As for the United States, IHME predicts that we will reach our peak resource use of hospital beds, ventilators, etc., on April 15.

IHME graph

 

A more grim projection is the prediction that, as a nation, we will reach our peak of daily deaths on April 16, with approximately 3,130 deaths that day.

graph

 

The good news is that the general assumption and hope is that after April 16, the average daily death toll will gradually decline. (But of course, it feels horrible and sickening to think of it that way). As of right now, IHME is predicting more than 81,000 deaths by August 4. But just last week, that number was projected to be 93,000, so the projections can change as the data does.

ihme graph

 

Individual State Projections

Each state's projected timeline is different, depending on population, its available resources, and the rate of the virus's spread. You can access all the IHME state projections here, but here are a few states' results:

California

  • will reach peak resource use on April 14, 2020 (estimated need for 678 ventilators at that time)
  • will reach its peak number of COVID-19 deaths per day (70) on April 17, 2020
  • total projected COVID-19 deaths by August 4, 2020: 1,783 (this number was previously predicted to be over 5,000)

Colorado

  • reached peak resource use on April 4, 2020 (113 ventilators needed)
  • reached its peak number of COVID-19 deaths per day (14) on April 5, 2020
  • total projected COVID-19 deaths by August 4, 2020: 302 (this number was previously predicted to be 2,154)

District of Columbia

  • reached peak resource use on April 3, 2020 (15 ventilators needed)
  • will reach its peak number of COVID-19 deaths per day (2) on April 7, 2020
  • total projected COVID-19 deaths by August 4, 2020: 58 (this number was previously predicted to be 218)

Maryland

  • will reach peak resource use on April 18, 2020
  • will reach its peak number of COVID-19 deaths per day (138) on April 19, 2020
  • total projected COVID-19 deaths by August 4, 2020: 2,326 (this number was previously predicted to be 1,766)

New York

  • will reach peak resource use on April 8, 2020
  • will reach its peak number of COVID-19 deaths per day (878) on April 9, 2020
  • total projected COVID-19 deaths by August 4, 2020: 15,618 (this number was previously predicted to be 16,261)

Texas

  • will reach peak resource use on April 19, 2020
  • will reach its peak number of COVID-19 deaths per day (72) on April 20, 2020
  • total projected COVID-19 deaths by August 4, 2020: 2,025 (this number was previously predicted to be 6,392)

Virginia

  • will reach peak resource use on April 20, 2020
  • will reach its peak number of COVID-19 deaths per day (59) on April 22, 2020
  • total projected COVID-19 deaths by August 4, 2020: 1,401 (this number was previously predicted to be 3,152)

All of these projections are updated as of April 6, per the IHME's data updates on April 5.

"The forecast, which assumes continued social distancing, only covers the next four months and does not predict how many deaths there may be with any resurgence at a later point or if social distancing is not implemented," IHME's website states on the FAQ page. "We are updating the model regularly to track new numbers and changes in these policies, and the estimates may change accordingly."

As we've all been told time and time again, it's vital that each of us do our part to flatten the curve. Even after the worst is over, whether it be in mid-April or later, it will be a long while before life as we know it returns to "normal." 

According to IHME, the social distancing practices currently implemented should lead to the end of the pandemic's first wave by the beginning of June. However, even then, 97 percent of the U.S. population will still be at risk for catching the coronavirus. It will be important for there to be screening methods, contact tracing, and continued quarantines to prevent a second wave of the pandemic from sweeping through. 

In the meantime, IHME, which is associated with the University of Washington, continues to analyze the available data to "provide hospitals, health care workers, policymakers, and the public with crucial information about what demands COVID-19 may place on hospital capacity and resources, so that they could begin to plan."

What do you think of these models? Do you find this information helpful or panic-inducing? Tell us in the comments. And please stay safe.