Coronavirus Hospitalizations in Washington State May Have Already Peaked, New Study Says

Coronavirus spread modelers at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) said Tuesday that their earlier predictions of how many deaths in Washington due to the virus may have been too high. Washington may also have passed the highest number of patients hospitalized with the infection, according to data released Tuesday.

Estimates from March by IHME showed over 1,400 deaths attributable to coronavirus were probable within Washington by the end of May. New data, however, has allowed that number to drop to approximately 632 coronavirus related deaths.

The need for total hospital beds in Washington is estimated to have already peaked, hitting 972 in April. Projections see those numbers dipping below 200 beds needed in the state for coronavirus cases by the beginning of May.

"Our estimates assume statewide social distancing measures are continuing in states where they have already been enacted, and for those states without such measures in place, it is assumed they will be in place within seven days," said IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray in a Sunday statement. "If social distancing measures are relaxed or not implemented, the US will see greater death tolls, the death peak will be later, the burden on hospitals will be much greater, and the economic costs will continue to grow."

According to recent data from the Washington Department of Health, 8,682 individuals have tested positive for coronavirus with 394 deaths attributable to the infection.

"Having our numbers level off (start to increase more slowly, become flat, or start to decrease) is still a dire challenge and we have not turned the corner," said the Washington Department of Health in a statement sent to Newsweek on Tuesday. "But we do think there is some evidence that our community mitigation strategy—closing schools, restaurants and theaters, and prohibiting gatherings—have slowed the rate of increase in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties."

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Washington Governor Jay Inslee returned 400 ventilators to the federal stockpile Monday based on new data that indicated the state has already hit its peak number of coronavirus hospitalizations. Karen Ducey/Getty

Based on information from the new models, Washington Governor Jay Inslee made the decision to send 400 ventilators back to federal stockpile to be used in other states.

"We are very confident that we will have adequate ventilator capacity in the state of Washington," Inslee said in a news briefing on Monday, "and I would not have made this decision if we did not have that high level of confidence."

"Once we saw that it was very likely that we would have enough ventilator capacity," Inslee added, "we freed that up for other Americans who might be struggling for breath right now in other states."

Social distancing and other coronavirus mitigation measures have allowed some states to "flatten the curve," meaning that new cases of coronavirus are on the decline.

In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo said during a Monday news conference that the death rate from coronavirus in the state had remained constant for two days, meaning the number of individuals requiring hospitalization had decreased.

"These are good signs and again would suggest a possible flattening of the curve," Cuomo said. While acknowledging the possibility of an increase, Cuomo said the numbers were "hopeful."

On a nationwide level, the U.S. has reported 394,587 positive cases of coronavirus with 12,748 deaths attributable to complications of the virus. However, 21,674 individuals are listed as being totally recovered from the illness.

Updated 12:10 a.m. EST 04/08/2020: This story has been updated to include a statement from the Washington Department of Health.