On March 30th, Northwest Citizen published a baseline COVID-19 surge peak forecast I did for Whatcom County. The forecast used March 28th as its launch point. It showed 6,151 total confirmed cases by April 25th, the date when this initial surge will likely peak. While the baseline reflected the social distancing and other containment conditions that were proclaimed by Governor Inslee on March 25th, they had not long been in place. As such, the baseline largely represents what could be expected by April 25th in the absence of them.
In the March 30th article, I stated I would provide updates. Now that nearly a week has gone by, I believe an update at this point will provide us with some idea of the impact, if any, of the “Stay at Home” and other containment measures proclaimed by the governor on March 25th. While we cannot completely attribute changes to these measures (changes in testing rates and the accuracy of testing also would affect the path of the surge), it is likely that this update provides an idea of how they are impacting the future course of the COVID-19 surge in Whatcom County.
With these caveats in mind, here is a comparison between the baseline and this update.
As you can see, a decrease in the initial rate of change, while still relatively early in the surge, makes a substantial difference in the forecasted surge peak. In this case, a 2.47 percent decline in the daily rate of change, less than a week from the initial baseline forecast, yields a 56 percent decrease in the cumulative number of cases by 25 April and decreases the number of new cases confirmed on that same day by 63 percent. These results drive home the importance of slowing the spread of the virus in the early stages of the surge.
While these results are welcome news, keep in mind that the updated results will still heavily impact our healthcare system. Moreover, this update suggests we can expect that 1.2 percent of the population of Whatcom County will have been infected by April 25th. Of these 2,696 folks, we are still not sure how many will suffer the worst forms of the disease or end up dying. If the containment measures lose their efficacy (lax observance?) we can expect a worsening of the situation. I will develop another update in about a week so we can monitor how Whatcom County is doing.