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Coronavirus

Washington study: Illinois needs ICU beds, projects for more than 2,300 virus-related deaths

A public service message Stay Home Saves Lives is seen against the Chicago skyline Monday, March 30, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
A public service message Stay Home Saves Lives is seen against the Chicago skyline Monday, March 30, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

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According to a projection compiled from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, United States' hospitals could be overwhelmed by the second week of April with demand for ICU beds.

Illinois is one of 41 states that could face a shortage of ICU beds based on the results of the projection, which shows the state having a peak need for health services on April 16. The projected shortfall may not be crippling, however, as the projected total has Illinois needing 160 more ICU beds than they currently have.

As of Monday afternoon there were 73 total confirmed deaths from the virus in Illinois, up eight from Sunday. The projection indicates that Illinois will experience an increase in deaths per day until the number reaches its peak at 88 on April 16, which will then de-escalate from that point porfward. The projection puts Illinois at 2,360 deaths.

Researchers note that these models are rapidly changing as conditions change throughout the country and as states escalate social distancing and stay-at-home orders. The lowest end of the range for projected deaths in Illinois from the Washington model is 1,205, with the highest at 3,630.

Eleven of those 41 states with shortfalls in ICU beds will need to increase ICU units 50 percent or more to meet the projected demand. New York has a projected shortfall of over 10,000 units.

In terms of overall hospital beds, the projection indicates that Illinois should be able to meet the demand during the peak need with a potential surplus of about 6,000 units at peak usage.

The study, which is based on observed death rates, placed an estimate of 81,000 deaths nationwide from the virus over the next four months. The estimate range was between 38,000 and 162,000 on both ends of the spectrum.

"Our estimated trajectory of COVID-19 deaths assumes continued and uninterrupted vigilance by the general public, hospital and health workers, and government agencies,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, Director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine, in a news release. “The trajectory of the pandemic will change – and dramatically for the worse – if people ease up on social distancing or relax with other precautions. We encourage everyone to adhere to those precautions to help save lives.”

The curve varies from state to state in the projection, with six states expected to experience daily peaks of over 100 deaths: California, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Texas.

The expected peaks of strain on hospital systems, which the projection indicates will hit Illinois on April 16, also has a wide range of variance. States such as Kentucky, Maryland, Oregon, Florida, Virginia, Missouri and Texas are projected to face peak medical need into May. Of those states, only Oregon has implemented a stay-at-home order.

One state, Idaho, has already reached its projected peak need. Idaho is one of two states projected to experience less than 100 deaths from the virus. Vermont is the other.

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