Arkansas headed for 20k COVID-19 cases per day by September on current track

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UAMS says the increase in actual and predicted cases is due to the relaxing of social distancing regulations.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A new model from UAMS said Arkansas is on track to reach 20,000 daily new infections by the end of September if conditions do not change.

“If all things stay the same, our forecasts show about 20,000 new cases per day by the end of September,” said Dr. Cam Patterson, Chancellor of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). “By adopting almost complete compliance with masking, these new infection cases drop to about 6000 a day.”

Arkansas has experienced a dramatic upsurge in COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks. The number of cases reported to the Arkansas Department of Health surpassed even, at the time, the seemingly high numbers forecast by our short-term models for the end of June reported by UAMS.

In a report published by UAMS titled ‘Summary of Covid-19 Forecasting Models Prepared by the Fay W. Boozman College of Public in Collaboration with Others at UAMS and UA-Fayetteville‘ dated July 3 states the report prepared for June 19th, UAMS is confident in forecasting the number of COVID cases in Arkansas would reach 16,000 by the end of the month. In reality, the number of COVID cases on June 30th was over 20,000, doubling the number of COVID cases in just over three weeks.

“Given the current best-fit model, the short term forecast is for the state to reach about 35,000 cases by July 10th. The time-series short-term models, shown on page 20 of the report, provide a more conservative, but nonetheless disturbing forecast,” the report states. “The time-series predicts the number of COVID cases will reach 30,000 by July 12th. The time series model of COVID deaths forecast 375, also by July 12th.”

Since UAMS’ last report on June 19, the mean estimate for total active infections at peak decreased by over 20%, with the predicting peak date pushed back to October 29. Similarly, the worst-case estimate at peak came down over 25%, peaking October 24.

For the first time since UAMS modeling began, its predictions for the number of beds, ICU beds, and ventilators needed at the state level all fall below the estimates of current supply, however, there are still regional variations. While the number of confirmed cases in Northwest Arkansas continues to increase, the rate of increase has abated somewhat, as can be seen, below.

The report by UAMS says the increase in actual and predicted cases is due to the relaxing of social distancing regulations. Previously, we thought the number of increased cases was associated with increased testing. As shown on the previous page, predicted deaths from COVID-19 have increased off-trend as of this reporting period, suggesting a real increase in coronavirus infections and resulting deaths.

Assumptions used for all models:

  • February 25 to March 15 – No social distancing.
  • March 16 to March 31 – Limited mitigation implemented.
  • April 1 to April 27 – Greater mitigation implemented to include little inter-state and international travel, high number of people working at home, masks recommended, and 80% of vulnerable populations shelter-in-place.
  • April 27 – May 20 – Phase I re-opening announced
  • May 21– May 24 – Graduation parties, other social activities and some travel occur.
  • May 25 – July 1 & July 10 – August 17 – Some socializing occurs, while others stay home. Some wear masks.
  • July 2 – July 9 – 4th of July parties and travel occurs over the weekend.
  • August 18 – August 24 – College students return to campuses. Local schools.

For UAMS’ full report on COVID-19 modeling in Arkansas click here.

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