According to an analysis from the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle, by forecasting the hospital demand and death rates, researchers were able to predict peak outbreak of COVID-19 by state.
In this article, we will use the data and findings from this research to answer two questions
(1) When will the Coronavirus outbreak peak in 50 states?
(2) How long will it last (when will it end)?
Peak: maximum hospital resource utilization and deaths associated with COVID-19.
Epidemic: an increase in the number of cases of a disease (in this case COVID-19) above what is normally expected in that population in that area.
Pandemic: an epidemic that has spread over several countries or continents, usually affecting a large group of people.
Self-quarantine: isolating one from other individuals for a period of time.
What Causes Infections to Peak? 2 Lessons From The 1918 Flu
On September 17, 1918, Philadelphia identified its first case of a fast-spreading Influenza strain. Despite that knowledge, 10 days later, the city hosted a parade with over 200,000 attendees. In only one month, cases rose to over 20,000. In contrast, New York City was quick to respond with mandatory quarantine and staggered business hours. In results, NYC had the lowest death rate out of all East Coast states in 1919.
Consider the curve as the "wave" of coronavirus cases. When more people get infected, the curve starts to go up. Depending on how quickly cases rise, you can have a very sharp curve or a "hill-like" curve.
According to McKinsey, invidividuals with coronavirus could spread the disease to two or more people. This has a network effect and causes a community spread. As more confirmed cases rise, the curve will "peak". At some point, the curve will start going down because people develop immunity or mass deaths - the virus will "run out" of people to infect.
The peak here refers to the date when the curves hit its highest point, correlates to the most confirmed cases of coronavirus within in a given state or city. Because hospitals have limited beds, there may not be enough room to serve all patients. Although it may seem like many states have surpassed their peaks in coronavirus cases, it is crucial that we continue to practice social distancing in order to prevent a second wave this fall.
As of August 4th, Healthdata.org reported that the peak in daily deaths due to COVID-19 infections in the United States was on April 14th. According to their data, it has nearly two months since the nationwide peak resource use, which was on April 15th. It is important to note that there is considerable variation in the peak dates by state. State Health Departments advise all residents practice physical distancing and self-quarantine to slow down the spread.
During the peak time, if you have non-life-threatening health needs, do not seek care at the emergency room; urgent care or virtual care may be better options. If you have a high deductible or no insurance, here is an article with more information about cost of treatment and testing.
Because each state has a different level of infection severity, the peak date and intensity will be different depending on where you are.
The projected dates for peak hospital resource use by state are listed below. The dates will change daily or weekly so be sure to check back for the most up-to-date information. Some peak dates are estimated to occur in the fall and winter, as the virus may be spread more easily once cities are reopened and social distancing protocols are relaxed. Most recent data from July 18th 2020:
Alabama: August 6th
Arkansas: August 9th
California: August 11th
Florida: August 16th
Georgia: August 14th
Idaho: November 1st
Iowa: November 1st
Georgia: August 14th
Nevada: November 1st
North Dakota: November 1st
Oklahoma: November 1st
Oregon: November 1st
South Carolina: November 1st
Tennessee: August 5th
Texas: August 31st
Utah: November 1st
Washington: November 1st
States not listed have passed their peak dates. Some past peak dates include: New York-April 9th, New Jersey-April 19th, Illinois-May 8th, Maryland-April 22nd.
How to Avoid These Peaks
The best ways to control the spread of coronavirus are to practice social distancing and wear a mask. According to the CDC Director, Dr. Robert Redfield, the widespread use of cloth face coverings will play a crucial role in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in the coming months. If everyone wears a mask, the transmission of COVID-19 can be controlled and contained in just a couple months. Check out our article Should I Wear a Mask? for more information on when to wear a mask, what type of mask to wear, and how to properly wear a mask to protect yourself and others.
Below is a projection for daily deaths in the United States created by healthdata.org. This projection shows three scenarios:
Projection (depicted in purple) shows the projected daily death rates if mask use continues at the current rates. In this scenario, there is a gradual easing of social distancing and it is assumed that strict mandates are re-imposed for 6 weeks if the daily death rate reaches 8 deaths per million people.
Easing (depicted in red) shows the projected daily death rates if mask use continues at the current rates. In this scenario, there is a gradual easing of social distancing; however, it is assumed that strict mandates will not be re-imposed even if the death rate signiicantly increases.
Masks (depicted in green) shows the projected daily death rates if mask use rises to 95% in the next 7 days. In this scenario, there is a gradual easing of social distancing and it is assumed that strict mandates are re-imposed for 6 weeks if the daily death rate reaches 8 deaths per million people.
Based on these projections, it is clear that the universal acceptance of wearing masks will significantly decrease the daily deaths and spread of COVID-19 this fall.
Additionally, by January 2021 there will likely be a vaccine on the market for COVID-19.Once the vaccine becomes available and widely distributed, there will be an increase immunity to the virus on a population scale.
How Long Will It Last? When Will Coronavirus End?
This is a complex question because as social distancing and self-quarantine become the new normal, many things we took for-granted pre-COVID-19 will change. Per the reopening guidelines, there will be 3 phases in most states which could last up to 30 days each. This means social distancing, contact tracing, and other public health measures will last up to 2-3 months post peak dates.
Forecasting when the coronavrius outbreak will end is difficult. First because "end" as a definition is not clearly defined. Here, we will use the scientific definition - when the daily death rate drops below 0.3 per million - as the indicator of the end of this pandemic in individual state.
Although the development of a vaccine will likely take at least 12-18 months, states are using other measures to open up society again. Prediction programs estimate that the spread of COVID-19 on a global scale will be much lower by December 2020; however, with the implementation of social distancing, wearing masks, and antibody/PCR tests, the United States will begin functioning again before there is a vaccine. Read our article more information on the reopening, of salons, gyms, and restaurants in the 50 states.
When will the U.S. reopen?
There are three phrases of reopening according to the CDC guidance. Each state has a different timeline for reopening. As of mid-July, New York City has entered Phase 3 of reopening. Several states, especially those in the Mid-west and the Southeast, have been in Phase 3 for several weeks. Even if your region has fully reopened, it is imperative ti continue to practice social distancing and wear a mask to protect those around you from COVID-19. Read more about reopening guidelines.
Will there be a second wave?
At this point, it is hard to tell if the coronavirus COVID-19 will return as an annual disease (like the Flu). For a season wave to occur, there needs to be sustained rise in new infections. As social distancing measures begin to loosen and public spaces begin to reopen, it it likely that coronavirus cases will rise. So far, South Korea has confirmed experiencing a second wave with rapidly rising new cases - concentrating around night clubs in the capital region of Seoul. China has also warned that its cases are on the rise, facing the verge of a second wave.
According to the projections shown above, it is likely that several states will see another peak during the fall season, as schools reopen, cities resume normal function, and social distancing requirements are eased. In order to mitigate the spread of the virus and avoid a second wave, it is very important to continue practicing social distancing and wearing a mask in public, even as society begins to reopen.
“I hope that the summer weather will help,” he added, but his research indicates that the warmer weather will only reduce transmission rates by about 20%. “That's only enough to slow it down, but not enough to stop it.” - Marc Lipsitch, DPhil, professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Am I At Risk For COVID-19?
While we are facing a Conavirus outbreak, not all coughs and fever are signs of COVID-19. With that being said, if you have symptoms, take drastic measures and treat it like you are positive and practice self-quarantine. For a comprehensive list of where to get tested for COVD-19 in New York City, see our article here.