IHME Coronavirus Projections: Tennessee might not have enough ICU beds by April 12


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – An independent health research institute has projected when there will not be enough intensive care beds for COVID-19 patients and when coronavirus daily deaths will peak for each state. The Tennessee projections are alarming.

The forecast for Tennessee predicts coming intensive care bed shortfalls and days with over 50 deaths a day.

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The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), based at the University of Washington and funded by a $279-million investment from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, published projections Thursday that say:

  • Tennessee may not have enough intensive care unit beds by April 12 and will have a shortfall through April 26.
  • The peak day may come April 21 when 761 ICU beds are needed and 629 are available.
  • Tennessee deaths may peak on April 21 with 51 a day.
  • Tennessee total COVID-19 deaths may reach 1,551 by Aug. 4

See national chart and use the drop-down to change “United States” to “Tennessee.”

According to the IHME projection, Tennessee has more than enough total hospital beds to weather the peak of the pandemic with 4,995 beds needed and 7,812 available.

The institute forecasts, however, that on the “peak resource use” day of April 21, — just three weeks from now — the health system in the state will need 761 ICU beds, 132 more than are available. On the peak day, the hospitals in the state will also need 411 ventilators, according to the projections.

The beds available data is based on average historical bed use, IHME said.

Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projections of hospital beds needed in Tennessee for COVID-19 cases. (Screenshot)

“No state, no metro area will be spared. And the sooner that we react and the sooner the states and the metro areas react and ensure that they put in full mitigation at the same time understanding exactly what their hospitals need, then we’ll be able to move forward together and protect the most Americans,” White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said Sunday on NBC’s Meet The Press, referring to IHME’s forecast.

IHME is recommending hospitals do what many have already done by canceling elective procedures: setting up additional beds and adding temporary facilities. It also recommends ramping up the production of ventilators, masks, and other personal protection equipment. The organization says mobile military resources are also an option.

Nationwide, IHME is predicting 2,341 will die at the height of the pandemic on April 14, with the daily death toll dropping below 100 on June 12. By Aug. 4, an estimated 81,114 people in the United States will have died from COVID-19, if the IHME’s predictions hold true.

The institute also said more action will be needed to avoid a second wave of COVID-19 cases.

“By end the of the first wave of the epidemic, an estimated 97% of the population of the United States will still be susceptible to the disease, so avoiding reintroduction of COVID-19 through mass screening, contact tracing, and quarantine will be essential to avoid a second wave,” the institute said.

The IHME said its forecast model is designed to address the planning needs of hospitals and local governments, with data coming from local and national governments, hospital networks and other sources including the World Health Organization and American Hospital Association.

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