Virus Outbreak Georgia

A couple walks past the marquee of the Georgia Theatre on Friday, March 20, 2020, in Athens, Ga.

(The Center Square) – New projections released this week by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluations forecasts Georgia will reach its peak for daily COVID-19 deaths in late April.

IHME, an independent health population research center at the University of Washington Medicine, said its model shows Georgia will reach a high of 77 COVID-19 deaths a day on April 24. It forecasts 2,648 COVID-19 deaths in the state by Aug. 4.

The model shows Georgia will reach a hospital-resource-use peak on April 23, when 8,196 hospital beds are predicted to be needed, including 1,232 intensive care unit beds. IHME says Georgia has 8,322 hospital beds available, so an overall bed shortage is not forecast. However, the state has 589 ICU beds, which would result in a shortage of 643 ICU beds.

To develop a statistical model forecasting deaths and hospital utilization versus capacity over the next four months, IHME used data on confirmed COVID-19 deaths by day from the World Health Organization and local and national governments and data on hospital capacity and utilization. It also observed COVID-19 utilization data from select locations.

Nationally, IHME forecasts 83,967 deaths by Aug. 4, reaching a peak of 2,214 deaths on April 15. At the national peak, IHME's model shows the U.S. will have a hospital bed shortage of 54,046 beds, including a shortage of 13,856 ICU beds.

"In addition to a 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 care," IHME Director Christopher J.L. Murray said. "These estimates can help inform the development and implementation of strategies to mitigate this gap, including reducing non-COVID-19 demand for services and temporarily increasing system capacity."

IHME said the projections also are based on the assumption of continued strong social distancing and other protective measures.

Despite calls from Democratic lawmakers to do so, Gov. Brian Kemp has not issued a statewide stay-at-home order. He did order high-risk individuals to quarantine for 14 days beginning March 24. 

As of Tuesday morning, the Georgia Department of Public Health reported 3,817 COVID-19 cases in the state – including 108 deaths – and 818 hospitalizations.

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus. The disease has caused at least 3,424 deaths in the U.S., with more than 175,000 confirmed cases in the country. COVID-19 symptoms appear within two to 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, runny nose and difficulty breathing.

Regional Editor

Jason Schaumburg is an award-winning, veteran editor who has been a journalist for more than 20 years. He spent a decade as the top editor in three northern Illinois newsrooms for Shaw Media and Pioneer Press.