A University of Washington model that has been cited by both Gov. Lee and the Trump administration issued new projections for the coronavirus impact inTennessee late Sunday, significantly lowering earlier projections.
The much-discussed model has had its credibility thrown into considerable doubt in recent days, after some of its numbers proved to be severely wrong. After originally projecting that Tennessee would be one of only nine states in the U.S. where health care capacity would not be overwhelmed as the outbreak peaked, the model revised its projections to predict that Tennessee would have severe shortages of overall hospital beds and ICU beds, and that 135 Tennesseans would die per day as the disease peaks later this month.
However, those projections had also predicted that Tennessee would need nearly 5,000 hospital beds — including more than 1,000 ICU beds — by Sunday. As it turned out, there weren’t even 5,000 total cases of coronavirus in Tennessee by Sunday, and only 328 had been hospitalized since the virus outbreak began.
The new projections reduced the disease’s toll in Tennessee significantly, projecting that a total of 587 people in the state would die of coronavirus by early May, including 25 people per day when the virus peaks on April 18. It also projected the state’s health care capacity to be well-equipped to handle the surge of new cases, with only 1,232 beds — including 245 ICU beds and 208 ventilators — needed at the peak on April 15.
Overall, the model also lowered its projections across the U.S. as a whole. At the peak of COVID-19 illnesses on April 15, the virus projected, there will be a shortage of 36,654 hospital beds across the nation, including 16,323 ICU beds. A total of 24,828 ventilators will be needed at that point.
The model projected a daily maximum of 3,130 coronavirus-related deaths, a number that went up and is about double the highest single-day number of deaths thus far. Overall, however, it lowered its projected number of deaths to 81,766 through the middle of May.
President Donald Trump has spoken of the effort to keep the number of coronavirus-related deaths at 100,000 or less.