Minnesota researchers released new modeling Wednesday that projects a range of 16,000 to 44,000 COVID-19 deaths over 12 months of the pandemic.
The updated model projects higher mortality and an earlier peak in Minnesota than initial figures, based on the state’s rising death total and updated data about the effectiveness of mitigation efforts. Researchers also incorporated a new understanding that all patients who need ventilators and don’t receive them will die, while earlier models were based on lower mortality rates for that scenario.
Physical distancing and the stay-at-home order didn’t reduce in-person contact in Minnesota as much as anticipated, Stefan Gildemeister, state health economist, said during a media briefing Wednesday. Earlier models estimated the stay-at-home order would reduce contacts by 80%, and new data show a 59.5% reduction.
The new model projects roughly 1,700 deaths through the end of May, with the pandemic peaking this summer. As of May 12, 638 Minnesotans had died of COVID-19.
“We hope these are pessimistic estimates, but it’s certainly a plausible outcome,” Gildemeister said.
This model is more precise than earlier versions, he said, but it has limitations because so much about the virus and patient outcomes is still unknown. Researchers will update the projections as more data becomes available.
The new projections came the same day Gov. Tim Walz announced that retail stores will be allowed to reopen Monday and that restaurants, bars and salons can open June 1 with safety measures and limited capacity.
Minnesota’s COVID-19 case count reached 12,917 Wednesday, including 432 new cases. For more information about COVID-19 in Minnesota, check out Minnesota Reformer’s daily COVID-19 data tracker.
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