DENVER (KDVR) — A national model suggests Colorado already hit its COVID-19 peak four days ago.
The Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluations model said Colorado cases would surge on April 3 and then begin a slow decline.
But the Colorado Hospital Association is pushing back, saying the IHME model was too optimistic.
“They were off what they predicted — that we would see is not what we have actually seen,” said Darlene Tad-y, the vice president for Clinical Affairs for the Colorado Hospital Association.
Tad-y notes the IMHE model said at Colorado’s peak, the state would only need 113 ventilators, even though she says today Colorado has nearly four times that many patients already using a ventilator.
“My worry about the IHME model is that people will be lulled into thinking that we are either passed our surge or that we won’t even see a surge,” said Tad-y.
Daily numbers released at 4 p.m. Tuesday by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment prove the rate of hospitalizations and deaths continue to climb in the state.
Colorado now has a 179 deaths — 29 more than the day before, the single biggest daily jump since the outbreak began. Plus, hospitalizations now stand at 1,079 — an increase of 85 from the day before. On Monday, hospitalizations went up by 70 patients, so Tuesday showed a 20% increase from the day before.
“I worried a little bit that they (IHME) could frankly be misleading to the general public about where our cases our and what we’re seeing,” said Tad-y, who added, “And then people will think OK we’re done and then they’ll stop staying at home or they’ll stop practicing good hygiene or they’ll stop wearing masks outside. And those measures are so absolutely important.”
Tad-y said the IHME relied on models based on the spread in Wuhan, China where the government was able to impose much stricter social distancing guidelines than the United States or Colorado has.
“Lot of models rely on different assumptions,“ said Elizabeth Carlton, as assistant professor at the Colorado School of Public Health.
She too believes the IHME model is too optimistic. She said the national model relies on mortality and hospitalization rates which lag a few weeks behind infection case.
Carlton said the state relies on the number of infection cases believed to exist and the R0 (pronounced R-naught) factor (rate of transmission) associated with Colorado.
“In the best-case scenario, cases may have peaked, but hospitalizations probably haven’t and deaths certainly haven’t,” Carlton said.
She believes the peak is still weeks or even a month away.
Carlton said everything depends on the state’s success with social distancing.
Gov. Jared Polis announced his stay-at-home order March 26. Carlton said it’ll probably be another week before epidemiologists can determine what impact the public health order has had on slowing the rate of transmission.
Tad-y said she hopes the state sees more of a plateau than a peak to ensure hospitals don’t become overwhelmed with patients.
She described the plateau as a situation in which “We see the number of cases stay about even over a prolonged period of time.”