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Another day, another projection, but this one has a catch

Wednesday, Apr 8, 2020

* The University of Washington IHME’s COVID-19 model has been updated again. Now, this is just one forecaster and one projection, but we’ve been watching it fluctuate and the news seems encouraging for Illinois.

Right up front I need to point out two errors in the IHME database. The IHME has yesterday’s Illinois death toll as 1. It was actually an all-time high of 73. IMHE also has cumulative deaths yesterday at 308. It was actually 380. Somebody entered the wrong death report yesterday and that may have thrown off the entire projection.

So, take these numbers with a grain of salt until they fix those errors.

The latest projection, dated today, has the projected death toll at 1,588, with a range between 1,011 to 2,790.

In March, the IMHE projected 2,453 deaths in Illinois. That was revised upward to 3,386 on April 2nd and then 3,629 on April 5th.

Illinois’ peak resources day has been moved up to April 11, five days earlier than its last projection.

Illinois is now projected to experience a peak of 91 COVID-19 deaths on April 12th. That’s way down from the last projected peak of 208 deaths per day by the same date. But, again, those input errors may have thrown everything off.

IMHE is now projecting no statewide shortage of ICU beds. It had originally projected a shortage of 204.

Keep in mind, though, that the statewide numbers will not reflect the reality at individual hospitals. Some may be overwhelmed while others have more than enough.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Nova - Wednesday, Apr 8, 20 @ 9:20 am:

    I’ll take any good news I can get.

  2. - Joe Bidenopolous - Wednesday, Apr 8, 20 @ 9:21 am:

    I think there are probably too many unknown variables with covid that projections are exceptionally difficult to make accurately. But even with that said, no good projection can come from bad data, so this forecast is currently trash

  3. - Levois J - Wednesday, Apr 8, 20 @ 9:21 am:

    I like to see things go in the right direction under the circumstances. As you say, however, we will see what the reality will reflect. May things go in a positive direction with this pandemic…

  4. - Donnie Elgin - Wednesday, Apr 8, 20 @ 9:23 am:

    The trend is our friend.

  5. - @misterjayem - Wednesday, Apr 8, 20 @ 9:27 am:

    “Illinois is now projected to experience a peak of 91 COVID-19 deaths on April 12th.”

    I can’t shake the feeling that this pandemic may have multiple peaks.

    – MrJM

  6. - ChicagoVinny - Wednesday, Apr 8, 20 @ 9:30 am:

    My biggest concern is the number of tests administered is no longer growing. We were supposed to be nearing 10,000 tests a day and we are still stuck at 4,000-5,000 depending on the day.

  7. - Lurker - Wednesday, Apr 8, 20 @ 9:31 am:

    The other concern i have with IHME is that they only seem to be modeling the “local” peak - i.e. the activity that is happening on the next 2-3 weeks. After May 1, the predicted deaths are zero, which indicates that their model is focused on some very limited variables.

    That might be useful for predicting the peak resource needs this month, but I am concerned that it creates too much optimism about how quickly we can recover from the “backside” of the peak. It basically says nothing about when we can go back to work.

    Also-garbage in, garbage out as others have commented.

  8. - Candy Dogood - Wednesday, Apr 8, 20 @ 9:31 am:

    ===I can’t shake the feeling that this pandemic may have multiple peaks. ===

    The trick when looking at aggregate statewide data is that we miss that there are potentially multiple little areas of community spread that are a month or some behind where Chicago is and will flare up whenever it is that we change our tune from stay at home to “all clear, wash your hands.”

  9. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Apr 8, 20 @ 9:32 am:

    The projection is nice to see but it’s only as good as we all continue to be thoughtful and understanding to the importance of staying at home and social distancing today and the days ahead.

    If anything, this type of update should encourage us all to be as vigilant or more vigilant to prove this update of the projection true.

  10. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Apr 8, 20 @ 9:34 am:

    === I can’t shake the feeling that this pandemic may have multiple peaks.===

    The flip side of my own comment, and it’s not wrong.

    Until we get a vaccine, that’s more honest to the future.

  11. - Pundent - Wednesday, Apr 8, 20 @ 9:48 am:

    =I can’t shake the feeling that this pandemic may have multiple peaks.=

    Absent serology testing you’re probably correct. Once we’ve reached the current peak and things are on the downward slide there will be a tendency for folks to think that things are returning to normal. And we’ll likely see people like Rep. Wihour and others demand that we quickly return to our pre-Covid-19 state and get back to work. There will be tremendous pressure to do so and without testing to determine who has the antibodies for this disease we could end up right back where we started. Blood testing can buy us time until a vaccine arrives which at its earliest is sometime next year. Without that this will simply reappear in waves. Hopefully each wave is a bit less damaging as the last as more people will be resistant to the virus. I would also hold out hope that the government can get there act together for round 2. But this is likely nowhere near being over.

  12. - efudd - Wednesday, Apr 8, 20 @ 9:57 am:

    There will other peaks, sure.
    Chances are they will come from areas, like mine, that border states, like Missouri, where their governor will use any excuse to lift his stay at home which he just implemented.
    Residents in Union and Alexander county will flock there, as we always have.
    And Pritzker will be criticized, on all fronts, for maintaining the stay at home and cast as being too cautionary and “exceeding his executive powers.”

  13. - Pundent - Wednesday, Apr 8, 20 @ 10:04 am:

    =Residents in Union and Alexander county will flock there, as we always have.=

    This is why we need a national stay at home order. Like Dr. Fauci I’m just as dumbfounded that this hasn’t happened. And even if Illinois is on it’s downward trend if other states have yet to peak it’s going to be virtually impossible for businesses to resume normal operations. Keep in mind that in many instances business leaders were ahead of the government in shutting things down. Even without the stay at home order in place it was nowhere near business as usual.

  14. - Amalia - Wednesday, Apr 8, 20 @ 10:10 am:

    hard to be happy about lowered projections when the numbers are still grim. until we get to a point where we can test, isolate, recover plasma from those who have recovered, create a treatment, I’m will not be comfortable. there is much more coming, sadly.

  15. - Almost retired - Wednesday, Apr 8, 20 @ 10:14 am:

    Unfortunately, with the mistake in Illinois numbers, this projection is neither valid nor reliable. The projections are based on statistical methods that are dependent on the accuracy of the data that is used to calculate the statistical outcomes. This kind of mistake at this point should caution one about the accuracy of projections from this institution and should make one wonder where else the data might not be up to date or accurate. These projections are wrong. This is a careless mistake at a very important time. Not good.

  16. - Annonin - Wednesday, Apr 8, 20 @ 10:15 am:

    Seemed like encouraging info even with the error. The WSJ reports earlier models built largely with stats from China and Korea in terms of epidemic react. When the stay at home, distancing, etc contribute to the response the toll goes down. Opps forget to credit raunchy pig pushing his little blue pill and the Navarro memo — all ingredients.

  17. - Bruce (no not him) - Wednesday, Apr 8, 20 @ 10:36 am:

    At this point any good news is welcome. I’ll handle the following bad news as it comes.

  18. - muon - Wednesday, Apr 8, 20 @ 10:38 am:

    On the good side for the projection is that they corrected the death total data from April 4 through April 6 which had pushed their estimates to double what they had been in their projections from April 1. Maybe they reacted to my email pointing out the error.

    Now they have erred on the data for April 7. It looks like a fairly common digit transposition going from 380 to 308. Correcting that should bump their projections upward. But their model predicts 75 deaths in Illinois for today, so unless today’s numbers significantly exceed yesterday’s count, I don’t expect their estimate for the peak to get as high as they were projecting during the last three days.

  19. - Jibba - Wednesday, Apr 8, 20 @ 10:57 am:

    ==I can’t shake the feeling that this pandemic may have multiple peaks.===

    Indeed. Look at the graphs of the projections. Illinois “peaks” but has a large plateau at near-peak levels for more than a week. Other states have a very sharp peak with rapid falloff. Others, like Kentucky, have the broadest upswing then downturn over the course of weeks, lasting into May. Why? No idea, but each place obviously differs and we won’t be free of risk until each place has passed its peak. And when will Wisconsin peak now, after making people endanger their lives to vote? Weeks and weeks from now. Think they won’t go to Rockford for groceries if we are now “safe”?

  20. - Soccermom - Wednesday, Apr 8, 20 @ 11:10 am:

    The cumulative death figure isn’t transposed. It reflects the mistake in yesterday’s numbers. 380-72 is 308.

  21. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Apr 8, 20 @ 11:17 am:

    This is encouraging news, but before everyone runs out to the lakefront, until we have a broad system of testing and monitoring this, we won’t be gathering in large numbers anytime soon.

    Keep crossing your fingers, praying, or whatever positive vibes you can offer, that this is indeed a trend that leads us out of our homes soon.

  22. - Chicago Cynic - Wednesday, Apr 8, 20 @ 12:15 pm:

    There have been so many flaws in this model for Illinois, I just can’t take it seriously anymore.

  23. - Siriusly - Wednesday, Apr 8, 20 @ 1:56 pm:

    Chicago Vinny is right about testing. Until we can implement a statewide (national - ha!) testing system, we won’t truly know what our numbers look like nor will we be able to restore some forms of regular activity.

    Once past this crisis moment, our government and our institutions need to start talking about testing and isolation protocols to get us prepared for what the new semi-normal might look like.

  24. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Apr 8, 20 @ 3:30 pm:

    The projection is useless when the most recent and supposedly most relevant data point is off by nearly two orders of magnitude.

    It’s as if they accidently entered 800.

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