Is Mississippi’s coronavirus ‘curve’ flattening? Not yet, model predicts, but forecast improves for state

Published 9:47 pm Monday, April 13, 2020

Mississippi’s COVID-19 coronavirus has not yet hit its peak, a national forecasting model predicts, but the model now predicts the impact on the Magnolia State and its resources may prove far less than earlier predicted.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) created a model and an online data visualization tool that predicted more than 1,200 Mississippians would die from the coronavirus pandemic.

That prediction came before the state officially announced a stay-at-home order.

The IHME computer model now shows that by August, Mississippi’s total deaths may number less than 400. On Monday afternoon that model predicted 371 deaths in Mississippi.

The earlier prediction forecast also perhaps didn’t predict some Mississippi ingenuity — Mississippi State Engineers added to the ventilator arsenal by converting battery operated ones to run operate off hospital power or the UMMC doctors that figured out a way to create an emergency ventilator using hardware supplies.

The revised forecasts reflect “a massive infusion of new data,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, Director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine. New data on COVID-19 health service use from multiple US states, including New York, Massachusetts, Georgia, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Florida, and California, has led to revisions down in estimated need to deal with the pandemic.

In addition, estimation of the likely peak of the epidemic in each state has been strengthened by epidemics peaking after social distancing in seven more locations internationally.

“As we obtain more data and more precise data, the forecasts we at IHME created have become more accurate,” Murray said. “And these projections are vital to health planners, policymakers, and anyone else associated with caring for those affected by and infected with the coronavirus.”