By Drew Wilson
April 13, 2020
A University of Washington coronavirus pandemic model showed a gloomy outlook for Florida just days ago, but a new update offers a less dire outcome.
The widely influential model now predicts the Florida theater of the pandemic will peak on April 26, five days later than UW predicted earlier in the week. The pushed-back date was accompanied by a steep reduction in expected deaths.
On April 7, estimates predicted upward of 240 Floridians a day would die from COVID-19. As of Saturday, the grim approximation has been halved. The most likely estimate, 112 deaths a day, is also significantly lower than The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projection from late last month.
The lower rate, 112 deaths a day, will lead to 4,000 Florida deaths by early August. Still traumatic, though two-fifths less so than the 6,770 deaths predicted in Tuesday’s appraisal.
The stated death rate and toll is the most likely outcome, UW says. A wide range still exists for each.
The darkest timeline could see the new coronavirus claim 320 Florida lives a day, with as many as 10,000 dead before the pandemic subsides. The current most favorable outcome predicts 25 deaths a day and 1,218 lives lost.
Another optimistic sign: Health care infrastructure will bend, but not break. Not even under the maximum load predicted in the Institute’s model.
Coronavirus patients would take up 6,400 hospital beds in the most likely scenario, just over 30% of the state’s capacity. In the worst case, coronavirus patients would fill 90%. The model doesn’t track the number of ventilators in Florida, but it projects as many as 1,040 will be needed.
High-end predictions indicate ICU beds could be in short supply. Demand could top 3,400, double the number available. The most likely model, however, would see 1,250 patients in the ICU.
The less-stark prediction could be an indication that the social distancing and stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Ron DeSantis, as well as local orders issued in many counties, have started to produce results.
Florida Department of Health data has shown a slowdown in case counts, from a to-date peak of 1,300-a-day last week to around 1,100 for the past few days.
As of Saturday morning, DOH reports 18,494 coronavirus cases statewide, with 438 deaths and 2,528 hospitalizations.