There’s mostly good news in the May 22 weekly update of the UVA COVID-19 model. Key points:
- “Public health restrictions paused the epidemic in Virginia and bought time” – So much for everyone who argued, or is *still* arguing, that public health restrictions are overblown and/or unnecessary.
- “The model estimates that community mitigation strategies employed in Virginia have prevented 534,775 confirmed cases in Virginia so far” – That’s an enormous number
- “Statewide, the reproduction rate dropped below 1.0 on May 10. It averaged 2.2 prior to March 15” – It’s interesting to compare this to the Imperial College Model, which had Virginia’s transmission intensity (Rt) as high as 4.0 in March, before “stay-at-home” and other restrictions were imposed. After that, you can see the Rt fall sharply, then fluctuating around 1.0 since early April.
- “Early evidence suggests rebound may be less intense than feared. Intensity depends on: ‘The new normal’; Effectiveness of test/trace/isolate” – That’s basically good news, except…note that intensity *depends on* what we all do – or fail to do. As the UVA modelers explain, the model “is designed to tell us that, given what we know, IF we do ‘x’, THEN we can expect ‘y’…” See the next bullet for more detail on this.
- “If Virginia experiences a light rebound in COVID-19 cases after public health restrictions are lifted, the model forecasts new confirmed cases will peak at 38,456 per week during the week ending August 9, 2020. However, if the rebound is strong, the model forecasts new confirmed cases will peak at 65,454 per week during the week ending July 26, 2020. If Virginians continue to social distance, giving room for the containment strategy of test, trace and isolate to succeed, then we can expect to maintain the flat curve in the light rebound scenario, and could flatten it further.” – So…again, what happens going forward isn’t etched in stone, but is largely going to be determined by our own actions, or inactions. If we maintain social distancing, if we all continue to wash our hands, wear masks, etc., then we can hopefully stay at the lower end of the UVA model’s ranges. And if we don’t do those things, then we’ll probably end up at the higher end of the ranges, with more cases, hospitalizations and deaths than we should have had, if everyone had acted responsibly.