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New study predicts New Hampshire’s coronavirus peak, death toll

Published: 3/31/2020 11:31:32 AM

Data is the key driver of how we are responding to COVID-NH, and while data can sometimes be unsettling, it can also be used for good — to get out in front of projected outcomes. That is the main driver of a recent study from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) according to health data scientists.

Based on IHME projections, the coronavirus crisis will peak in New Hampshire around April 24, with about 1,027 people in the hospital and 10 people dying every day, according to the independent global health research center conducted from the University of Washington.

The projection assumes New Hampshire residents maintain social distancing, with schools and nonessential businesses closed and the governor’s “Stay at Home” order still in effect.

With 1,018 available hospital beds in NH and 83 ICU beds, projections show New Hampshire will experience a shortage of 9 hospital beds and 73 ICU beds during the projected peak time of need.

The number of deaths projected for New Hampshire based on current data is 318, expected to reach that peak death toll around June 18.

By comparison New York State, considered the current COVID-19 hotspot in the U.S., is expected to hit its peak resource use by April 6, with a shortage of needed hospital beds of more than 42,000. The projected death toll in New York from COVID-19 is currently 10,243 on Aug. 4, peaking at 547 per day on April 8.

According to Christopher J.L. Murray, IHME Director and Chair of the Department of Health Metrics Sciences, the purpose of such metrics is to emphasize the importance of preventing overload to hospitals.

“In addition to a large number of deaths from COVID-19, the epidemic in the U.S. will place a load well beyond the current capacity of hospitals to manage, especially for ICU care. These estimates can help inform the development and implementation of strategies to mitigate this gap, including reducing non-COVID-19 demand for services and temporarily increasing system capacity,” Murray said in explaining the research posted March 26.

“These are urgently needed given that peak volumes are estimated to be only three weeks away. The estimated excess demand on hospital systems is predicated on the enactment of social distancing measures in all states that have not done so already within the next week and maintenance of these measures throughout the epidemic, emphasizing the importance of implementing, enforcing, and maintaining these measures to mitigate hospital system overload and prevent deaths,” Murray said.

The data projects a nationwide death toll of more than 84,000 Americans.

On March 20 New Hampshire DHHS Commissioner Lori Shibinette acknowledged the greatest challenge to New Hampshire healthcare providers is the acute shortage of supplies and the toll it is taking on a statewide response to “flattening the curve” of community spread.

“The coronavirus has placed an unprecedented burden on our healthcare system, and signs of strain are showing,” said Shibinette. “Everyone who works in healthcare wants to test New Hampshire residents who have symptoms of COVID-19. Testing capacity at the State Public Health Laboratories (PHL) and commercial testing companies is not the issue. However, the challenge for our providers and first responders is national shortages in PPE, nasal swabs and retesting agents. Healthcare providers require access to these supplies to collect a specimen for testing. Until national supply chains are able to meet the demand for testing supplies, New Hampshire, like all states, will be forced to limit testing to those most at risk of severe symptoms and those healthcare employees who are critical to ensuring we can serve our residents’ health needs.”

In a March 27 interview on WMUR’s Close-UP, Gov. Chris Sununu acknowledged the expectation of a medical surge, and also said President Trump’s desire to get the country back to business by Easter is more hope-building than reality-based.

“The worst is probably still yet to come. We’re going to have a medical surge, and it’s going to be very serious. We want people to understand that,” Sununu said.

“I think Easter is a little optimistic, but I think [President Trump] does have that big responsibility of making sure people have hope, that they’re going to get through this,” Sununu said.

By aggregating #COVID19 forecasts across the United States, the estimated trajectory shows that demand for health services will rapidly increase in April and begin to taper off toward the end of May into June.



The study used data on confirmed COVID-19 deaths by day from WHO websites and local and national governments; data on hospital capacity and utilization for U.S. states; and observed COVID-19 utilization data from select locations to develop a statistical model forecasting deaths and hospital utilization against capacity by state for the U.S. over the next 4 months.

These articles are being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information visit 

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