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Officials Weigh New Projections on NC’s COVID-19 Transmission Rate

Scientists say that without a vaccine, COVID-19 transmission may continue, infecting a large portion of North Carolina's population. (Adobe Stock)
Scientists say that without a vaccine, COVID-19 transmission may continue, infecting a large portion of North Carolina's population. (Adobe Stock)
April 9, 2020

RALEIGH, N.C. -- A team of scientists has developed a new set of predictive models based on North Carolina's population, showing what might happen to the health care system if the state loosens up social distancing measures.

Mark Holmes, director of the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says the models offer clues into how coronavirus infections spread throughout the state.

"Our best estimate today is that if we were to maintain some form of policies that would maintain transmission reduction like we're seeing currently, there would be roughly 250,000 North Carolinians infected by the end of May," he states. "If we were to fully relax the policies after April 29, this could triple to roughly three quarters of a million infected, or 750,000."

Holmes says the data is aimed at helping state leaders consider the trade-offs involved in reopening the economy versus overwhelming local health care systems, and also will guide public health officials working to implement a strategy aimed at reducing viral transmission in the months ahead.

The predictive modeling results also offer insight into how many people will need hospitalization.

"We project there is a small chance that by June 1, we will face gaps in our ability to meet existing demand,"
Holmes states. "If, on the other hand, we fully relax those policies, we would see a substantially higher chance of resource gaps, roughly 50%."

Holmes says that gap probably would continue to climb after the end of April if restrictions were lifted.

Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - NC