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Coronavirus deaths are expected to peak April 17

In a COVID-19 briefing at the White House Tuesday, public health experts cited the expectation that between 100,000 and 200,000 Americans could die in the next four months from COVID-19. An Item analysis of the data indicates that more Lynn residents may die from this virus than were killed in the Vietnam war.  

The basis for the White House estimates — a model developed by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) — is derived from statistical analysis of infection and hospitalization rates in all 50 states. The IHME model tries to predict such stark statistics as the peak day for deaths, the estimated total deaths over a four-month period, the number of hospital beds and intensive-care beds required, and even the likely number of respirators needed on a state-by-state basis.

The latest estimate for Massachusetts indicates that we could expect 2,357 deaths, with the worst day projected to be April 17, when the model predicts 99 people will die in the Commonwealth. At that peak point IHME estimates that Massachusetts will need 9,375 hospital beds — a number far exceeding the normal 4,848 beds in the state. The prediction also calls for 1,435 of those patients to need intensive-care beds. While aggressive efforts are underway to provide more, the Commonwealth normally has fewer than 300 ICU beds. 

The IHME model does not predict consequences by individual city or town, but extrapolation of the data based upon population makes it possible to estimate the potential death toll by locality. Using the latest Massachusetts population estimate of 6,900,000 residents, the City of Lynn, for instance, can expect to suffer 1.4 percent of the deaths, or approximately 32 lives lost. For context, a total of 19 Lynn residents died in the Vietnam war.

Using the same approach, here are the mortality estimates for our local communities:

Lynn 32

Lynnfield 4

Marblehead 4

Nahant  1

Peabody 17

Revere 17

Swampscott  4

Saugus  8

The IHME model, which is updated daily, currently predicts a national death toll of 93,765 with 2,607 people likely to die on the peak day — April 16.  COVID-19 task-force experts spoke about the model in detail in recent press briefings. White House COVID coordinator Dr. Deborah Brix said, “No state, no metro area will be spared.” 

The task force actually has considered data from a dozen different epidemiological models in arriving at a range that estimates potential deaths at between 100,000 and 240,000. Such estimates, however, assume that closing all but essential businesses and stay-at-home measures continue and are enhanced in states not yet practicing them.   Incredibly, there are 19 states not taking such measures, without which things could get worse. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s expert on infectious diseases offered a small degree of hope: “This is a number that we need to anticipate, but we don’t necessarily have to accept it as being inevitable.” 

At his White House briefing yesterday, President Trump reflected a grim forecast: “This is going to be one of the roughest two or three weeks we’ve ever had in our country. We’re going to lose thousands of people.”

Complete information about the IHME model is available at