INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — When state and federal health experts refer to statistics charting the spread of the COVID-19 virus across America and the various dates when it will peak from coast-to-coast, they’re looking at a model like the one developed by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
That model, drawing on daily statistics posted the Indiana State Department of Health and archived data from the American Hospital Association, paints a numerical picture of the challenges ahead for the state, its hospitals and its nearly 6.8 million citizens in response to the virus.
“This is an excellent tool to get a sense of the timing of the epidemic,” said Dr. Shaun Grannis, vice president for data and analytics at the Regenstrief Institute in Indianapolis. “This is very user-friendly and I think it does communicate what is generally happening with the curve.”
What the model shows is the pandemic curve gently sloping up in Indiana over the next couple weeks for coronavirus patient admissions to hospitals across the state and the projected death rate due to the disease.
As of Thursday morning, ISDH was reporting 78 deaths in Indiana and daily increases of 14, 16 and 13 fatalities for the first three workdays of this week.
These double-digit increases were not figured into the IHME model, which estimated that Indiana deaths this week would be in the 3-5 patient range and, thus, the model’s projected Indiana fatality total through the end of May jumped from 906 Tuesday night to 1,083 last night and 1,160 this morning.
The estimated patient peak in Indiana is projected to be April 19, with approximately 35 patients per day dying for several days either side of that date.
“There’s a fair amount of noise [incomplete of conflicting data] in that graph,” said Grannis. “As they get information from the Indiana sources, they’re updating that model based on the real data.
“Indiana has better real-time access to the actual capacity and capabilities in this state than this model does.”
The model also paints a conservative statistical view of available intensive care unit (ICU) bed space and ventilators in the state using data from the American Hospital Association that Grannis said may not reflect recent efforts to reconfigure hospital capacity to reflect the anticipation of the surge.
Users can also search the model to view the capacity and surge outlook for the United States as a whole as well as specific states.
“I absolutely use this graph. I shared it with my elderly parents in Michigan to help them understand what is happening,” said Grannis. “We have one of the best connected digital health network systems in the country and the models that the state is using are using some of the best data that any state has available.”
During an afternoon press briefing, Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said that there have been some 3,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the state with approximately 700 patients confined to ICU beds.
“We are sailing through a storm in uncharted waters,” said Gov. Eric Holcomb. “We will get through it.”