As the pandemic drags on, municipalities across the United States struggle to prepare for their worst weeks. While social distancing measures prove vital, the outbreak threatens its worst to come. Other states like New York experienced their peak earlier, after facing the brunt of the country’s infections. For Charlotte, models produced by health experts predict the peak of covid-19 infections and hospitalizations to strike towards the end of June.
Mecklenburg County uses data from a University of Pennsylvania model, as well as other sources, to estimate its peak. Officials in Mecklenburg look at the adherence to social distancing, as well as population vulnerability and hospital resources. The model adjusts according to how much of the public obey social distancing.
For example, the June 27 peak date prediction assumes 45 percent adherence to social distancing protocols. Furthermore, this prediction anticipates a need for 2,060 hospital beds. It also anticipates a need for 1,143 intensive care unit beds, as well as 515 ventilators.
Presently, Mecklenburg county’s resources include 283 ICU beds and 243 ventilators.
While the prediction assumes a June 27 peak date, that shifts with less, or more, social distancing. The less the public social distances, the sooner the peak arrives, and the worse it will be. Conversely, with more social distancing, the date pushes out, allowing for more time to amass the necessary equipment. It also shrinks the need for that essential equipment.
“Flattening of the curve does not mean this goes away quicker,” said Mecklenburg Public Health Director Gibbie Harris during a press briefing Monday. She explained the measures better positioned the county to address the needs of those with severe cases of covid-19.
Though, the model lacks a complete knowledge of the local infection rate. With inadequate testing, officials largely base their predictions on presumptions. They believe confirmed cases could possibly account for as little as 5 to 10 percent of the total number.
Officials’ comparisons made to forecasting hurricanes and other natural disasters seem apt, as the greater Charlotte area faces an inevitable peak, but at an unknown future moment.