Three coronavirus models have very different takes on how Colorado’s outbreak will develop |

Three coronavirus models have very different takes on how Colorado’s outbreak will develop

John Ingold
The Colorado Sun
A projection for hospitalizations in Colorado from COVID-19 by the group Covid Act Now, captured on April 6, 2020.
Screenshot from

There is no crystal ball to show the future of the coronavirus pandemic, but researchers across the country have been working quickly to come up with the next best thing: an accurate statistical model.

These are the now-familiar arcing graphs showing case numbers rising above hospital capacity — or, hopefully, not rising above capacity — and then dipping back down. But, because the coronavirus is so new, there’s no scientific consensus about how contagious it is and what percentage of people stricken by it will require hospitalization.

That makes the current models vary quite a bit and, in turn, means policymakers have to essentially pick their model when deciding how to respond to the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. You see this playing out now in disputes between the federal and state governments — where states are preparing hospitals for massive patient surges that the feds say won’t arrive.

This uncertainty in modeling is particularly evident in Colorado. One model last week showed the state likely coming up thousands of hospital beds short of what it needs. Then, this week, that same model updated to say Colorado is already past its peak, even as the state continues to build up treatment capacity.

Read the full story from The Colorado Sun to learn more about the three models with an explanation about how they were constructed and what their limitations are.

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