Coronavirus has killed 13 people in Alabama, new forecast shows 1,157 more may die before virus wanes

Published 9:56 am Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Health care data forecasters are predicting the worst of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic will come to Alabama over the next three weeks, peaking on April 20, what statistically is forecast to be the deadliest day.

A forecast model created by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) shows the peak of the pandemic will be April 20 in Alabama.

IMHE is an independent global health research center at the University of Washington.

The researchers say stats show Alabama may be short 78 ICU beds, though hospitals around the state have been rushing to convert unused or underutilized space into areas to dedicate to COVID-19 patients.

The IMHE forecast only goes through early August, but predicts approximately 1,173 Alabamians will die from the virus.

Through Tuesday morning, Alabama Public Health statistics indicated 13 have died so far.

The IMHE research indicates Alabama may need approximately 441 ventilators, which are used to help the most ill COVID-19 patients to breathe.

Exactly how many ventilators Alabama hospitals currently have available is unclear.

At the peak, on April 20, the IMHE model indicates an average of 37 deaths will occur per day in Alabama.

Researchers say COVID-19 deaths are likely to persist into July, even if people strongly adhere to social distancing measures and other precautions.

“Our estimated trajectory of COVID-19 deaths assumes continued and uninterrupted vigilance by the general public, hospital and health workers, and government agencies,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, Director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine. “The trajectory of the pandemic will change – and dramatically for the worse – if people ease up on social distancing or relax with other precautions. We encourage everyone to adhere to those precautions to help save lives.”

IHME’s analysis, based on observed death rates, estimates that over the next four months in the US, approximately 81,000 people will die from the virus. Estimates range between 38,000 and 162,000 US deaths.

The analysis was developed in response to requests from the University of Washington School of Medicine and other US hospital systems and state governments working to determine when COVID-19 would overwhelm their ability to care for patients. The state-by-state data analysis projects demand for hospital services, including the availability of ventilators, beds, and general hospital beds.

The forecast predicts that 41 states will need more ICU beds than they currently have available and that 11 states may need to increase their ICU beds by 50% or more to meet patient needs before the current wave of the pandemic ends. (The end is defined as fewer than 10 deaths per day nationwide.)

“We hope these forecasts will help leaders of medical systems figure out innovative ways to deliver high-quality care to those who will need their services in the coming weeks,” Murray said.