CLEVELAND — Several organizations have been releasing models attempting to project the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Ohio. While the ranges of case numbers may differ, all agree on one thing: Ohioans are "flattening the curve" through strong adherence to social distancing, which is bringing the numbers down.
However, we are certainly not out of the woods yet, as most experts say we have not yet reached the peak of said curve. At that point, the state will see its highest number of new cases per day, and a new model just released Tuesday is predicting just how many residents will be in the hospital during the height of that surge.
According to a study conducted by the Ohio Hospital Association in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio State University, Ohio is expected to see anywhere between 1,700-2,500 patients with COVID-19 in state hospitals during the peak of the pandemic. This is not a cumulative total for the entire pandemic (dating back to March) or a per day figure, but rather an estimation of the amount of hospital beds that will be occupied at the same time with said patients (i.e., how many remain in the hospital).
The data is split up among Ohio's eight "emergency regions," which were divided at the direction of Gov. Mike DeWine. Most of Northeast Ohio is in regions two and five, which combined are expected to see a total of between 700-950 active hospitalizations. Cuyahoga County is expected to be hit hardest, with an estimated number of between 170-275.
Of the overall state numbers, between 900-1,200 of those patients are expected to be in the ICU, which should be in-line with the state's still-expanding hospital capacity. Among Ohio's 417 total confirmed ICU cases thus far, 167 (roughly 40%) have died.
View the numbers by region & county here:
As far as when the peak will occur, the study tends to agree with most projections with a target date of between roughly April 24 and May 15. MetroHealth targeted near the lower end of that spectrum for its own projection that predicts a peak of about 2,000 new cases per day in Ohio (the smallest number we have seen so far), but added this important note:
"These models do not mean people can or should go back to life as normal. In fact, they assume people will continue to stay home if they have symptoms, frequently wash or disinfect their hands, not touch their face and stay at least six feet apart when in public."
The Cleveland Clinic, whose own model projects around 6,000-8,000 new daily cases at peak, concurred:
"Although we are using different approaches to predictive modeling, we are aligning our findings to learn from one another. It’s important for Ohioans to continue to implement the measures that Governor DeWine has put in place, including social distancing and following the Stay at Home order.
"Cleveland Clinic’s predictive model is focused on assessing COVID-19’s impact on our operations. It proposes various scenarios that guide our preparations for a potential surge of COVID-19 patients. This includes adding more beds and activating our labor pool. We are operating in a rapidly changing environment with models that have shifted based on changes in state actions to increase social distancing.
"Although there are different approaches to modeling, all the models predicted a significant surge prior to the Governor’s actions. There is evidence that these actions have started to make a real impact on the spread of the infection. We all must continue to do our part to continue to flatten the curve."
All of these officials also stress these new models do not necessarily mean earlier models were wrong, or that the latest projections will even reflect the exact numbers. Rather, they represent the evolving conditions and realities of the coronavirus pandemic.