Model suggests NC will need to reapply coronavirus restrictions in October


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A new model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine suggests North Carolina may need to reimpose restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19 in October.

The model suggests North Carolina will need to reimpose mandates such as non-essential business closures and stay-at-home orders, when the daily death rate reaches 8 per million.

This threshold is based on data regarding when states and/or communities imposed mandates in March and April, and implies that many states will have to reimpose mandates.

However, if mask use is increased to 95%, the re-imposition of stricter mandates could be delayed 6 to 8 weeks on average.   

In addition, since July 15, several states have added mask mandates. IHME’s statistical analysis suggests that mandates with no penalties increase mask wearing by 8 percentage points. But mandates with penalties increase mask wearing by 15 percentage points.  

America’s COVID-19 death toll is expected to reach nearly 300,000 by December 1; however, consistent mask-wearing beginning today could save about 70,000 lives, according to the data.

Masks and other protective measures against transmission of the virus are essential to staying COVID-free, but people’s inconsistent use of those measures is a serious problem, said IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray. 

“We’re seeing a rollercoaster in the United States,” Murray said. “It appears that people are wearing masks and socially distancing more frequently as infections increase, then after a while as infections drop, people let their guard down and stop taking these measures to protect themselves and others – which, of course, leads to more infections. And the potentially deadly cycle starts over again.” 

The model also assumes that that 50% of school districts in each state will opt for online instruction only for the 2020–2021 school year.  

“As data emerge on actual school patterns, we will incorporate them into our future revisions of forecasts,” Murray said. “We recognize that, given mask wearing, the likely restrictions on after-school activities, and the potential for some parents to avoid engaging in school-related functions, our estimated impact of school openings may be overly pessimistic.”  

The new death projections and other information, such as hospital resources usage, are available online.

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