California’s latest coronavirus forecast projects peak in late May: Officials

California
A police officer mans the entrance to a coronavirus (COVID-19) testing center in Hansen Dam Park on March 25, 2020 in Pacoima. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

A police officer mans the entrance to a coronavirus (COVID-19) testing center in Hansen Dam Park on March 25, 2020 in Pacoima. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

Californians efforts to stay home and socially distance themselves from others is helping to “bend” the coronavirus curve, buying the state some much-needed time to prepare for an anticipated peak next month, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday.

The state’s dynamic modeling currently predicts COVID-19 will hit its peak in California in May, likely later in the month.

That estimate differs substantially from the recently revised projection from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which pinpoints the Golden State as being just a week away from peak demand for health care resources.

Officials acknowledged the discrepancy between forecasts, but held firm to the state’s own projections.

“We hear about the various models suggesting that April is the time when we see that peak, or really that peak rate of surge,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Department.  “Our modeling shows that we are not at peak in a week or two.”

He pointed out that the state has experienced a moderate uptick in reported cases as of late.

The ever-important curve is bending but also stretching, the result of residents observing the statewide stay-at-home order and physically distancing themselves from one another, according to Newsom.

That’s giving the state a chance to set up and staff alternative health sites, and obtain more protective gear for healthcare workers on the frontlines of the crisis. 

“That curve continues to rise, just not at the slope that originally was projected without the kind of interventions — these non-pharmaceutical interventions — like physical distancing have provided for,” he said.

That means the peak comes down but extends further out, according to Ghaly.

California has seen a steady increase in confirmed cases — 15,865 as of Tuesday, according to the state’s official count — but not rapid growth in terms of hospitalizations and the number of coronavirus patients being treated in intensive care units.

The latest figures show 2,611 have been hospitalized and 1,108 admitted to the ICU, a growth of 4.1 and 2.1% respectively over the past 24 hours.

“These are not the double-digit increases we’re seeing in hospitalization rates or ICU rates that we saw even a week or so ago,” the governor said.

He noted the numbers reinforce the importance of physical distancing and the need to continue the stay-at-home order.

California is still planning for a surge by late-May and into June, and is working to increase its hospital bed capacity by 50,000 and procure 15,000 to 20,000 ventilators. Of

With the state’s medical facilities not yet overwhelmed by the anticipated crush of coronavirus patients, Newsom on Monday announced the state would be loaning out 500 ventilators.

Of those, New York, New Jersey and Illinois each received 100 from California, the governor revealed Tuesday.

Hospitals also aren’t yet overwhelmed, with hundreds if not thousands of beds available in each region, according to officials.

But they cautioned that the outlook could change for the worse if residents don’t continue doing the things that has been curbing the spread of the virus, like physical distancing and staying at home.

“We know that our efforts … that it makes a difference and that we move [the curve] lower and further out,” Ghaly said.

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