A key coronavirus model often cited by the White House tweaked its projections Thursday, now saying that some states must wait even longer to safely reopen.
Georgia won’t be able to safely reopen until at least June 22, according to the newest edition of the model. On Tuesday, the model gave the state a projection of June 19.
Georgia is planning to begin reopening tomorrow, however, despite criticism from public health experts who have repeatedly stressed the dangers of relaxing social distancing measures too early.
The peak number of daily deaths for Georgia isn’t expected to occur until April 29 — almost a week from today. More than 50 people are expected to die that day, according to the model.
Built by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, the model uses a “threshold” of one case per million residents to determine when it might be safe for a state to reopen. That’s the level at which states may be able to use other containment measures – such as aggressive testing, contact tracing and isolation – instead of social distancing, according to IHME.
The model refined its projections for other states as well:
- Florida now needs to wait until June 14 to open – compared to an earlier projection of June 11.
- Arizona won’t be able to safely relax social distancing measures until June 26, compared to an earlier estimate of June 23.
- Kansas will have to wait until June 21, and the state of Washington until May 28.
- New York – the country’s hardest-hit state – reached its peak number of daily deaths 14 days ago, on April 9. The state is still expected to see hundreds of deaths each day for the next week, but it can begin reopening on May 27, according to IHME.
The estimated death toll for the United States has been revised upwards as well. A total of 67,641 people are now predicted to die by August, compared to the 64,976 deaths that were previously projected.
Remember: While the institute’s model has been influential, it is just one of many, and IHME has warned against relying too heavily on its projections.
“If I were a governor of a state, I would certainly not make a decision based just on our model,” IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray said in a virtual press briefing on Friday.
Here's a look at the updated reopening map: