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When is the COVID-19 peak in Colorado? And why social distancing saved thousands

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On Sunday, Colorado released its COVID-19 modeling data and it paints a bleak outlook if Coloradans don’t maintain strict social distancing and why it was stay-at-home orders were neccessary.

Why it matters: Had the state not reacted, 35k people might have died from COVID-19. But as of Sunday, there isn’t a clearer picture of the peak, total expected fatalities and when life can get back to normal.

What Colorado predicts:

Without social distancing:

  • Deaths: 23k to 33k by June 1
  • Peak Infection: 705k to 933k between April 18 and May 20.
  • Peak Hospitalizations: 222k to 326k between April 30 and June 2.
  • ICU beds: 37k to 63k by June 1

Between 50% and 60% social distancing:

  • Deaths by June 1, 2020: 276 to 3.9k
  • Deaths by January 1, 2021: 10k to 29k

ICU Beds and Deaths: It’s not surprising but in a footnote, Colorado said that as ICU beds become full, “all cases requiring ICU in excess availability result in deaths.

What the University of Washington Predicts: In their model by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation predicts Colorado could see a peak around April 16-19:

  • Peak resource use: April 4*
  • Peak of daily deaths: April 5*
  • Total deaths: 302 by August 1

Is it accurate? It’s an early model. 

Are cases slowing down in Colorado? The New York Times’s model shows that Colorado’s rate of new cases is slowing. The surge of cases in late March from Eagle, Denver, Weld, is seeing a slower pace of growth.

What the White House says: On Saturday, Dr. Deborah Brix, coronavirus response coordinator, said her team is watching Colorado closely, but they are optimistic mitigation is having an impact.

The Big Picture: “This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11, Vice Admiral Jerome Adams said to Fox News that this week be one of “the hardest and the saddest.”

In Colorado, the rise in cases is not expected to stop. While the hot zones and larger counties may be entering their peaks, rural Colorado is entering their cycle.