The daily number of deaths from COVID-19 in Georgia could increase from where it is now at around 40 to twice that by August, according to a model created by Youyang Gu and collaborators in the Electrical Engineering & Computer Science department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Gu and collaborators use an SEIS model, which stands for susceptible, exposed, infectious and susceptible (again); these represent the different stages in the progression of the disease. Importantly, this model assumes that no person has any immunity after they have recovered and are no longer in the infectious category. Instead, they go back into the pool of susceptible people
Because experts don’t know if recovered people have immunity and, if so, how long that immunity lasts, this model takes immunity out of the equation entirely. This means that the estimates for deaths may be a “worst case scenario” in terms of numbers.
The model assumes that all states in the U.S. will continue with heavy social distancing measures until June 1 when they switch to moderate social distancing measures, except for Georgia which switches on May 1. Variables in the model include mortality rate, imports of positive cases, population, hospital beds per 100 people, and others. The model will be updated daily to reflect new data from Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 data.
As of today, the model projects that Georgia will have 5,750 total deaths, in a range from 1,889 to 16,467 deaths, by Aug. 4. The projected range number of deaths per day is 88, with a range of 1 to 414. There are currently 1,102 deaths in Georgia.
It’s important to note that the model projects a range and picks a most likely value within that range. The researchers write, “For example, if we predict 150,760 deaths with a range of 88-294k, it means that there is roughly a 95% chance that the true deaths will be between 88-294k. There are too many real-world variables that can affect the outcome, which results in this large range.” You can find details about all the parameters and variables that went into the model on their website.
In other states like New York, the model projects that daily deaths could drop tenfold from about 400 to 43, with a range of two to 185.
In Florida, where the number of daily deaths spiked to 83 then dropped to 47 recently, the model projects daily deaths to be 35 with a range of 0 to 226.