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When is COVID-19 expected to peak in Idaho?

The state is well-situated to avoid a shortfall of hospital beds and ventilators if the projections hold.

BOISE, Idaho — The peak for coronavirus cases could next week, according to projections published Wednesday by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

According to the projection, Idaho will hit the peak for COVID-19 deaths on April 16. Peak resource use - the height of people needing ventilators and hospital beds - is projected for April 14.

On that date, the IHME estimates that 124 hospital beds, 24 intensive care unit beds, and 20 respirators will be needed for COVID-19 patients. That demand is not expected to outpace the number of beds and ventilators available. 

In total, the research group projects that 57 Idahoans will die of coronavirus by August 4, although that number could be as low as in the 30's or as high as just under 120, according to the projection.

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Credit: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation

The projection suggests that Idaho is better positioned to combat the coronavirus than earlier models anticipated. In all, the state has 1,817 regular hospital beds and 151 ICU beds available, signaling that if the projection is accurate, there will be no shortfall. 

Credit: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation

The model takes into account the stay-at-home order put in place March 25, the closure of Idaho schools and non-essential businesses, and the limits on travel. If those restrictions are lifted - or if people do not adhere to them - the Idaho COVID-19 numbers could still shift.

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The current 21-day stay-at-home order is set to run out April 15, one day before the expected peak. But Idaho Gov. Brad Little has already said he anticipates extending those restrictions in some form or another. 

"I will predict with pretty good confidence that something is going to continue on," Little said during an AARP telephonic townhall on Tuesday. "With the good Lord's help, I'm going to try to make the best decision going forward, but we will not return to normal on April 16."

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The model does not take numbers of personal protective equipment (PPE) into account. Healthcare workers in Idaho have already said their stores of PPE are running low.

Still, the projection paints Idaho as far better situated than the rest of the nation: A projection by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation for the full U.S. warns of a major resource shortfall. In all, Americans are expected to need 19,438 ICU beds - 9,047 more than the current capacity - and more than 94,000 regular hospital beds, which leaves a shortage of 15,852. U.S. patients sick with coronavirus are expected to need 16,524 ventilators. 

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The peak resource need for the country is expected to come April 11, with the peak deaths following one day later. An estimated 2,212 will die April 12 in the U.S., according to the projection. In total, 60,415 people will die of COVID-19 by August, according to the projection, although that number could hold as low as 30,000 or more than double to 126,000. 

Both the Idaho and the U.S. projection are based on full social distancing through May, the IHME notes.

KTVB reached out to the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare about the projections. It released the following statement:

"Models are tools public health professionals use to run scenarios. Predictions and forecasts change as the inputs do. The Governor's Work Group is still working with several universities on a model that's different from the IHME model. I expect to know more on that soon, that we can share with the public. In the meantime, it's still too early to tell if Idaho is flattening the curve, but the lower numbers in recent days are encouraging. We really need all Idahoans to stay the course and follow the recommendations and stay home as much as possible."

At KTVB, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: www.ktvb.com/coronavirus.

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