The peak of the COVID-19 pandemic is about a month away for North Dakota, according to projections published Thursday by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
The organization says even if the state and nation continue to use “strong social distancing” and other protective measures until the end of May, demand for hospital services will exceed capacity.
Although North Dakota is not projected to need more beds than there are available, the state’s facilities will need to utilize approximately 495 of its 1,545 beds for COVID-19, according to IHME projections.
The nation is on track for a shortage of 49,292 hospital beds at the height of the pandemic, with an intensive care unit bed shortage of 14,601 beds, according to the IHME. That’s if all states institute social distancing and other prevention measures by April 2. If not, IHME warns the numbers will increase.
“No state, no metro area will be spared. And the sooner that we react and the sooner the states and the metro areas react and ensure that they put in full mitigation at the same time understanding exactly what their hospitals need, then we’ll be able to move forward together and protect the most Americans,” White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said Sunday on NBC’s Meet The Press, referring to IHME’s forecast.
Birx says the coronavirus pandemic will move in waves, peaking in each metro area at different times.
“What we’re trying to say to everyone is when this virus comes to your metro area, please stay in your metro area where your care can be provided because it’s spreading virus more quickly around the United States,” Birx said, referring to the spread of COVID-19 from New York to Long Island and southern Florida as people left the city amid alerts.
The IHME expects the pandemic to peak in North Dakota on April 25 and 26 and nationally on April 14. The IHME predicts North Dakota will need 41 ventilators.
Based on current death rates, the IHME is forecasting the COVID-19 daily death toll in the U.S. to spike at 5 in North Dakota on April 21, with a total of 163 North Dakotans losing their lives to COVID-19 during the pandemic’s first wave.
Nationwide, IHME is predicting 2,341 will die at the height of the pandemic on April 14, with the daily death toll finally dropping below 100 on June 12. By Aug. 4, an estimated 81,114 people in the U.S. will have died from COVID-19, if the IHME’s predictions hold true.
The group says more action will be needed to avoid a second wave of COVID-19 cases.
“By the end the of the first wave of the epidemic, an estimated 97% of the population of the United States will still be susceptible to the disease, so avoiding reintroduction of COVID-19 through mass screening, contact tracing, and quarantine will be essential to avoid a second wave,” the organization states on its website.
The IHME says its forecast model is designed to address the planning needs of hospitals and local governments, with data coming from local and national governments, hospital networks and other sources including the World Health Organization and American Hospital Association.