Forecast models are only as accurate as their assumptions.
The early models predicting the initial outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic have widely been criticized as flawed because of misinformation coming from the Chinese government.
While many in the media and Democratic party are slamming the Trump administration's estimate of up to 240,000 deaths from coronavirus as "too conservative," it turns out even these "conservative" estimates could be overblown.
Experts continue to warn that it's critical to take the virus seriously, but the forecast models have been repeatedly revised from their most dire predictions.
Now, it has been revealed that the expert predictions of 50,000 hospitalizations in New York by April 1, 2020 were at least 400 percent too high.
Social distancing efforts have certainly helped flatten the curve.
But because there are so many asymptomatic cases, experts believe that the mortality rate will continue to decrease as more patients are diagnosed without life threatening conditions.
More details below:
New York was expected to have at least 50,000 hospitalizations by April 1, 2020.
The state has been considered the epicenter of the outbreak in the United States, followed closely by New Jersey, California, Louisiana, and Florida.
However, the actual number of hospitalizations by the end of the day was 12,000.
To put this into perspective, the forecast models over predicted the need of hospital beds by 37,000 beds and over 7,000 ICU beds.
While there is no denying that there is a shortage of medical equipment, it's not as drastic as many in the media have claimed.
The Washington Post explains how the White House achieved it's conservative estimate of deaths, which critics have ridiculed. However, new data suggests that even those conservative numbers are too high:
The IHME model initially estimated deaths through this summer would total 38,000 to 162,000 — a lower projection than many others and beneath the White House’s own estimate. But because of its lower figure and Birx’s comments, experts believe it to be a main source for the White House’s best-case scenario of 100,000 to 240,000 deaths.
Meanwhile, the White House appeared to rely on Imperial College for its worst-case scenario. That study estimated as many as 2.2 million U.S. deaths if no action was taken, 1.1 million deaths if moderate mitigation strategies were adopted, and an unspecified number if drastic measures were taken.
But as a common mathematician’s refrain goes: A model is only as good as the assumptions it is built on.
Knowing the assumptions built into the White House officials’ projected number could tell us a lot: exactly how contagious and deadly they believe the virus to be. It also would reflect their beliefs on how the federal government and states will behave in coming months and whether they will do enough to make a difference.
The IHME model assumes every state will quickly impose stay-at-home orders, which some states, including Alabama and Missouri, have yet to do. It also assumes the entire country will maintain these restrictions until summer. But Trump has extended the White House’s restrictions until only April 30 and made clear he wants to reopen the country as soon as possible.
Another key question is what time period the White House’s 100,000-to-240,000 projection covers. Imperial College’s worst-case scenario calculated the toll exacted by the virus over a couple of years. But if the White House’s projection covers only the next few months, like the IHME model does, the true death toll will almost certainly be larger because the United States will probably see additional waves of covid-19 until a vaccine is deployed.
And it is important to note, experts say, that the IHME model differs from many epidemiological models — another reason its death estimate may be lower, experts say.
Models predicted that New York would need 10,050 ICE beds by April 1, but it turns out the state actually only needed 3,022 beds on that day.
While this should be celebrated as a victory, Democrats are continuing to politicize COVID-19.
Nancy Pelosi has authorized investigations into the Trump administration's handling of the coronavirus response, despite the fact that we're literally in the midst of the pandemic.
Furthermore, the media seem content on ignoring the seemingly overblown predictions.
As of April 1, there were 83,712 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the entire state of New York.
The vast majority of these were mild cases or cases that did not require hospitalization.
Only 12,226 of those diagnosed needed to be hospitalized.
Rochester First confirms the number of statewide cases:
There are now 83,712 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New York state, which includes 7,917 new cases since last official count Tuesday, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
At this time, there are now 1,941 COVID-19 deaths statewide, up from 1,550 reported Tuesday.
Of the 83,712 confirmed cases, 12,226 people have required hospital treatment, and 3,022 of those patients have required treatment in an Intensive Care Unit.
To date, New York has received 220,880 tests for the virus, including 15,694 new tests since Tuesday’s update.
New York remains the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis in the United States. Our state currently has 65,016 more confirmed COVID-19 cases than the No. 2 state, New Jersey.
“For me, facts are facts, and the facts that we offer the people of this state, and this country, they’re not pessimistic facts or optimistic facts — they are just the best information we have, as of this time, and I think that is empowering, and in some ways relaxing,” Gov. Cuomo said.
The governor says current models project that this crisis will last for the foreseeable future.
“They refine the model over time and the model changes and the numbers change, but what we’re looking at now is the apex, roughly at the end of April, which means another month of this,” Cuomo said.
While these are staggering numbers, they are 400 percent lower than the predictions, which are credited for causing widespread fear and panic buying.
Many people are asking: if the models were off by 400 percent, what else are the models getting wrong?
The Western Journal reports that the Imperial College in the UK predicted 550K deaths, but later lowered their estimates by 96 percent:
One such model, originally published on March 16 by Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team in London, projected that as many as 550,000 people could die in the U.K. if various measures — such as isolating the infected, social distancing and closing schools and universities — were not taken.
But according to comments this week from Neil Ferguson of the Imperial College London, who co-authored the original study, that worst-case scenario is not likely.
In fact, his current projection of the number of total deaths is 96 percent lower than the doomsday, worst-case scenario projection of 550,000 fatalities.
He says that’s due to the measures the U.K. has taken to slow the spread of the disease.
“We assessed in that report … that fatalities would probably be unlikely to exceed about 20,000 with effectively a lockdown, a social-distancing strategy,” Ferguson told a U.K. parliamentary committee on Wednesday, Reason reported.
Predictive models are certainly valuable, but even experts warn that they should be taken with a grain of salt.
Models are only as accurate as their input and the assumptions made behind those factors.
It is also unclear how social distancing and warmer summer months will play into the spread or containment of COVID-19.
The models have already been revised countless times, so we can only assume that they will continue to evolve moving forward.