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.
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.
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.
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.