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COVID-19 Claim: Virus Has Peaked in Colorado

COVID-19 Claim: Virus Has Peaked in Colorado
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During a question-and-answer session following his April 13 press conference about the fight against COVID-19, Governor Jared Polis remained confident that the state will be able to meet the April 26 end date on his current stay-at-home order, which is among the most optimistic in the country.

This upbeat assessment is supported by modeling from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, which asserted that April 13 would prove to be the peak date for U.S. deaths associated with the novel coronavirus. Moreover, the latest state-by-state breakdown by the IHME, which has become one of the nation's most widely cited sources for COVID-19 projections, contends that Colorado's own peak actually occurred back on April 2, and offers fresh data to support this conclusion.

The IHME model for Colorado stirred controversy earlier this month, with experts at the Colorado Hospital Association disagreeing with its conclusion and health officials suggesting that the state's COVID-19 peak would actually fall sometime between May and September. Days later, on April 6, Polis pushed the stay-at-home order forward just two weeks, to April 26, mere hours after Denver had put an April 30 date in place.

At first glance, the latest COVID-19 statistics from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, updated at 4 p.m. on April 13, don't seem to overflow with good news. Indeed, the number of deaths rose by eighteen from the previous day, and four additional outbreaks at residential and non-hospital health-care facilities were confirmed during that same span.

Here are the numbers:

7,691 positive or presumptive positive cases
1,493 hospitalized
56 counties
38,742 people tested
308 deaths
72 outbreaks at residential and non-hospital health care facilities

But in sharing his latest model with CNN on April 13, IHME's Dr. Christopher Murray suggested that the virus would start petering out next month across the country, owing to successful social-distancing practices. He also argued that infections could essentially be under control by the summer if current trends hold true.

The latest IHME prognostication for Colorado offers a range of possibilities related to various categories: a lower estimate, an upper estimate and a mean estimate combining the two extremes. Moreover, it describes the current outbreak as the "first wave," implying that future waves remain a possibility.

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Here are the projections for Colorado.

Total cumulative COVID-19 deaths predicted through first wave (lower estimate): 339
Total cumulative COVID-19 deaths predicted through first wave (upper estimate): 688
Total cumulative COVID-19 deaths predicted through first wave (mean estimate): 456

Predicted peak date of daily COVID-19 deaths: April 2

Predicted daily COVID-19 deaths at peak (lower estimate): 29
Predicted daily COVID-19 deaths at peak (upper estimate): 29
Predicted daily COVID-19 deaths at peak (mean estimate): 29

Predicted peak date of hospital resource use: March 28

Predicted hospital bed need at peak (lower estimate): 619
Predicted hospital bed need at peak (upper estimate): 668
Predicted hospital bed need at peak (mean estimate): 644

Predicted ICU bed need at peak (lower estimate): 139
Predicted ICU bed need at peak (upper estimate): 145
Predicted ICU bed need at peak (mean estimate): 142

Predicted invasive ventilator need at peak (lower estimate): 128
Predicted invasive ventilator need at peak (upper estimate): 132
Predicted invasive ventilator need at peak (mean estimate): 130

The IHME's conclusions imply that a worst-case scenario may not be in the cards for Colorado. And even those who doubt the accuracy of this forecast, especially given that mass testing for the virus remains a distant dream, undoubtedly hope to be proven wrong.

The April 13 state-by-state summary is available for download on this page of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation website.

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