Social Distancing does work!

To end the week, I want to talk about the impressive impact of social distancing. As you can tell from these curves, remarkable changes have happened in the United States in just the past 10 days. This is the period after strict social distancing guidelines and shelter in place were enforced by most states.

April 1, 2020: Projections for ICU and regular hospital bed needs.
April 10, 2020: Projections for ICU and regular hospital bed needs.

As seen in these projections, the number of beds needed to treat COVID patients has dropped dramatically since April 1st (9 days). Hospital bed requirements fell from 86 to 12 thousand, and ventilator requirements were reduced in half! In addition, the peak need for hospital resources has moved 4 days earlier, indicating that the pandemic is winding down sooner. The peak day of resource need in the USA is now predicted to be tomorrow.

Success in restricting travel. I have draw a circle around Michigan for my friends on either coast!

The result in Michigan is even more dramatic. As shown in this map, Michigan has been very successful in social distancing. It began by closing the schools in mid March, then ordering shelter in place on March 24.

April 10: Michigan pandemic projection Current hospital bed needs and ventilator needs are now adequate, and there is actually a large excess of regular hospital beds..

Also, while the number of infected persons was doubling every two days, it’s now doubling every nine days in Wayne and Oakland counties (Detroit) and doubling every 15 days in Washtenaw County (Ann Arbor). In addition, the number of people testing positive for the virus in Michigan has dropped from over 20% to 12%. This indicates that the background infection rates are dropping precipitously.

While there are still large number of patients in the intensive care units at Michigan Medicine, the hospital system did a remarkable job of almost doubling their ICU capabilities and therefore is now able to handle all of these patients.

If you look at the COVID-19 death projections for the state of Michigan, it now appears that deaths will end before May 1st., about the time that the Governor’s current shelter in place order ends.

This is great news and seems like the light at the end of the tunnel. But we have to remember that there have been over 20,000 documented infections and almost 2,000 deaths in Michigan. We need to continue to do research to understand this pandemic and determine why so many people died from a disease that caused an insignificant illness for the majority of the infected.

Published by jbakerjrblog

Immunologist, former Army MD, former head of allergy and clinical immunology at University of Michigan, vaccine developer and opinionated guy.

5 thoughts on “Social Distancing does work!

  1. Such encouraging news!
    I do wonder what the actual numbers are. I know at least 3 people who had all of the symptoms with a very disturbing fever but have not been tested., And one whose test was negative but a very suspect result. Your thoughts?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The change in testing positive rate may be due to a shift in the population being tested. Improved access may lead to testing people who are less ill with less classic and lower pre-test probability. Also another group who had Covid symptoms 1-2 weeks ago may come in for testing and are no longer shedding virus, so now the tests could be increasingly false negative. Again, coming back to the need for acute and chronic antibody testing to get a better measure of the disease in our population.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very good point. While we have not changed our criteria for providing pcr testing as the numbers decrease the population tested will change. Agree that antibody testing is crucial. Jim


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