SOURCE: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, https://covid19.healthdata.org/projections
Nevada’s Covid-19 cases are projected to peak mid-April. The independent Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), part of the University of Washington, has state-by-state coronavirus projections that include the number of ventilators needed, ICU bed availability and projected deaths from COVID-19.
Renown CEO Tony Slonim last week said his hospital is prepared for a surge of patients, but the IHME data shows that, statewide, there will be a shortage of 110 ICU beds and nearly 300 ventilators are needed.
A death rate of 35 people per day is anticipated April 17 with total COVID-19 deaths in Nevada projected to be more than 800 people by May 20, 2020. That’s projected as of March 29. These numbers regularly change, so the interactive data included above.
“IHME has produced forecasts which show hospital bed use, need for intensive care beds, and ventilator use due to COVID-19 based on projected deaths for all 50 U.S. states,” the institute wrote. “These projections are produced by models based on observed death rates from COVID-19, and include uncertainty intervals. They incorporate information about social distancing and other protective measures…”
These projections assume Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak’s orders for business closures and stay-at-home recommendations remain in place.
“In addition to the large number of deaths from COVID-19, the epidemic in the U.S. will place a load well beyond the current capacity of hospitals to manage, especially for ICU case,” said Professor Christopher Murray, IHME’s director. “The estimated excess demand on hospital systems is predicated on the enactment of social distancing measures in all states that have not done so already within the next week and maintenance of these measures throughout the epidemic, emphasizing the importance of implementing, enforcing, and maintaining these measures to mitigate hospital system overload and prevent deaths.”
More than 80,000 people are projected to die in the U.S. by mid-June, according to IHME data. Research shows COVID-19’s death rate is notably higher than the seasonal flu. About 35,000 people died from the flu last season, 2018-19.
To date, more than 9,000 people have been tested in Nevada with 738 positive and 8,412 negative. Fourteen people in Nevada have died. Nationally, there are more than 120,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 2,000 deaths.
No deaths have been reported in Washoe County, and eight people have fully recovered from the virus.
UPDATE: Just after hitting publish, Washoe County reported its first death from COVID-19.
Many patients untested
There are numerous examples online of people presenting COVID-19 symptoms but not getting tested. Sisolak repeatedly said that requests for federal resources, including test kits, have gone unanswered or remain woefully unfulfilled.
The state’s pandemic report for March 27 noted that “Nevada has placed 2 large PPE orders encompassing the statewide immediate need. Nevada has received 2 shipments accounting for less than 25% of the PPE requested.”
Similarly, test kits are in short supply: four requests for test kit components have not been filled.
“Nevada … has been told by the federal government that these items are on an indefinite backlog,” the state reported on Friday.
The state was approved last week to develop its own test kits, however, which will “increase testing capacity considerably,” said Dr. Mark Pandori, director of the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory.
In the meantime, those with symptoms are directed to stay home, and scarce test kits are being prioritized.
“We can’t say we tested positive without being able to take a test. It’s next to impossible to be tested unless you are elderly, have known contact with the virus, or are otherwise considered high-risk,” she said last week. “This is because so few tests are available, which is not the health department’s fault. We don’t blame them for reserving the tests. While we don’t want to ‘waste’ tests, we believe the health department deserves to know just how far it has spread in the community, so that people will take this more seriously.”
She was emphatic: “Do not trust the numbers. Stay inside. Tests are in such short-supply, they are saving them mostly for high-risk patients and medical workers. They have so few, they only want to use them if it could help save their lives.”
Those who have contracted the virus described it as the worst illness they’ve ever experienced. Others said they experienced only mild symptoms.
The biggest concern is COVID-19’s virulence: While younger, healthy people may not be as negatively impacted by symptoms, others, such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, are at greater risk.
Older adults and those with “severe underlying medical conditions like heart of lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for development more serious complications from COVID-19…” the CDC warns.
The CDC recommends seeking medical attention when emergency warning signs are present. Those include: trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion and bluish lips or face. COVID-19 symptoms also include fever, cough and shortness of breath.
Medical experts maintain that the best way to curb the spread of COVID-19 is to avoid contact with others by staying at home, and when in public, to maintain distance from others of at least six feet.
UPDATE March 30, 2020: The interactive data is included with the article since the projections are regularly updated.
CORRECTION: The correct number of ICU beds the state will be short, as of March 30, is projected to be 110.
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. In addition to managing This Is Reno, he holds a part-time appointment for the Mineral County University of Nevada Extension office.