ASU’s COVID-19 modeling predicts a dismal future for hospitals

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A new modeling update released by ASU’s Bio-Design Institute shows that hospital capacity in Arizona is heading for crisis levels due to increasing cases of COVID-19 combined with the usual spike in seasonal respiratory illnesses.

Josh LaBaer is the Bio-Design Institute’s Executive Director. He believes that in the next couple of weeks the stress on hospitals will be significant.

“If things continue along their current trend, then it could be soon,” LaBaer said.

LaBaer stressed that these trends could impact a particular hospital sooner or later than their predicted time, although the numbers that ASU looks at encompasses the entire state of Arizona.

“Just because there’s a bed available in another town doesn’t mean that there’s a bed available for you,” LaBaer said.

Currently 1 out of every 3 beds in the intensive care units of hospitals in Arizona are occupied by a patient that has COVID-19. In hospitals, the rate is about the same, according to LaBaer.

LaBaer currently believes the levels of COVID-19 are almost comparable to the COVID-19 levels from the summer in Arizona. The rate of rise in cases was slightly faster in the summer, but the rate is slowly picking up.

However, LaBaer stressed that there are a few differences. First, Arizona was a major hotspot for cases in the summer, so it was possible to bring in nurses from outside the state. Currently, Arizona is not as big of a hotspot, so the chances of receiving outside nurses is not as likely.

Additionally, winter is traditionally the busiest season for hospitals. In the summer, hospitals are less busy.

Currently, ASU has created three models to track COVID-19: the Return Home model, the Travel Data model and the Current Fit model. These models help track where we are now (Current Fit) as well as what would happen if transmission rate increased by 15 percent (Travel Data) or decreased by 15 percent (Return Home).

“The Current trend and the plus 15 trend look terrible,” LaBaer said.

All of the models do not include Thanksgiving travel and its effects on the transmission.

Josh LaBaer, ASU Bio-design Institute Executive Director

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