Games with Models, April 19 Data

Hopefully the slight downturn in COVID-19 hospitalizations in Rhode Island reported today will mark this as the start of the down slope in infections.  The model I’ve been following suggests we’ll have a couple more days of increases, but that trend is affected by the fact that I’m still capturing a few days of large increases in my averages.

As it was, for today, I’d projected 293 hospitalizations, but the reported number was actually down one, to 254.  The following chart reflects the updated projections.



Broadening to the three key metrics we’re all watching, this is how we’re looking:

  • Cases:
    • Projection for 4/19: 4,755
    • Actual for 4/19: 4,706
    • Projection for 4/20: 4,931
  • Hospitalizations:
    • Projection for 4/19: 293
    • Actual for 4/19: 254
    • Projection for 4/20: 284
  • Deaths:
    • Projection for 4/19: 145
    • Actual for 4/19: 150
    • Projection for 4/20: 157

It is more than disappointing to see the numbers of deaths coming in higher than projected even as other metrics slow down.  That could just be the fact that the disease worked its way into some high-risk populations, so recovery will lag.

Another important point as the governor starts talking about what we’ll have to see before she’ll permit us to get back to something closer to regular life:  If she bases her judgment on the number of actual cases, that’s the wrong measure.  Total cases are going to keep going up for the foreseeable future (although current trends put them hitting a plateau in mid-May if we don’t loosen restrictions.

This is why it is important for people in power to start talking about active cases.  When it comes to the spread of the disease, somebody who has had the disease and recovered will almost certainly be a walking stopper of the disease.  It is amazing that nobody in Rhode Island is talking about how many have recovered.

My model has active cases peaking at 3,902 on Tuesday, with an underlying 1,065 people having recovered.  The question the governor should be encouraging us to consider and discuss among ourselves (this being a government of, by, and for the people, you know) is what should be tolerable.

If we focus our energies on protecting at-risk people, then we can start to open up for everybody else and loosen or tighten our behavior to stay within an acceptable margin for hospitalizations.   For example, if COVID-19 hospitalizations fall between 150-200 people at any given time, with only a few deaths attributable to the disease each day, is that too many, or should the acceptable threshold be higher?

Keep in mind that our current solution is creating a breeding ground for social diseases and deaths associated with those.

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