Predictions are as good as the math model and data.

CNBC News reported today that over 400,000 Americans could die from COVID-19 by January 1st, 2021 ( I saw this headline and looked at the article and thought seriously about its likelihood.

American deaths from COVID-19 are nearing 190,000 ( There are still four months left in this year. Are we going to see a doubling of COVID-19 deaths in just four months? My initial thought was NO!

There are too many strategic stop gaps in place to halt the progression of the disease. Many states are using a rolling seven-day average to open or close businesses. Why would our current plans allow a major eruption of the virus?


Predictions for 400,000 COVID-19 deaths in four months are based on the research center – Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). Models are guesses at what may happen in the future.
I do not have a lot of faith in the people creating the mathematical relationships for modeling a disease that has never appeared on earth before. Many have been wrong already. Yet, the media loves the doom and gloom of the potential disasters that could occur.

Lessening Restrictions

Some states have been opening businesses and listing restrictions on their citizens over the past couple of months. Initially, COVID-19 new cases rose to news-strangling levels and reported as ‘out of control’ in various states. Yet, the death count did not match the trend of the new cases. Something happened!

New cases rose, hospitalizations rose at a lesser rate, and deaths did not occur at the levels previously seen. Our medical care has improved. Ventilator usage is not at crisis levels seen just a few months ago. Many COVID-19 patients are released from hospitals in a couple of days compared to hospital visits nearly six months ago.

I have seen this on the street where I live. Two neighbors were in the hospital for COVID-19 and both released for house arrest (quarantine). If we are seeing such progress now with new cases controlled by social distancing, face masks, and limited seating, what is supposed to change to increase the death count?

Worst Case Scenario

The IHME model predicts over 600,000 COVID-19 deaths when states ease current restrictions and people disregard health guidance. What? States will ease restrictions – now or after the election in November. States will control the reapplication of restrictions based on numbers of new cases, hospitalization capacity constraints, and death trends.

People do not suddenly abandon the health practices that kept them safe. I do not see that as even a possibility. Yes, there are those few bullet-proof people who will challenge anything.

Daily Testing

I hear about various college sports programs implementing testing programs daily or several times a week to ensure that athletes and staff are not infected. Continuous testing is a great way to ensure people are free from the virus.

Some people say the false-positives or false-negatives are not accurate enough to use for large groups. If a test is accurate to an 80% level – meaning that 8 out of ten times it predicts a true result. Giving a person two, three, or four tests (even on the same day) would give validation that the result was accurate.

I see this as a potential solution for many of us – a low-cost home-use test kit that provides accuracy to at least the 80% level. If it cost me $5 to test myself daily, then it is an acceptable cost. If it cost me $50 to test myself, I do not know if I would use that test daily.

Anyone testing positive with recurrent positive test results would declare that infection to the appropriate authorities for quantification purposes and enter a self-quarantine for fourteen days, regardless of any symptoms occurring now or in the future!

Best Case Scenario

However, if everyone uses a mask, the death estimate is 288,380. WOW, if people continue to use masks, the death toll would be under 300,000 – imagine that! The most likely COVID-19 death prediction from IHME is 410,450 deaths by January 1st.
Restrictions Imposed by States

States that have barred businesses from reopening have not stopped the spread of the virus. They will see huge increases in new cases when restrictions are lifted for people and businesses. The virus did not go away because people hibernated in their homes.

The model predictors are accounting for the seasonal changes that winter brings on each year. Huge increases in COVID-19 cases will occur because viral diseases spread more easily in colder climates. This is seen every winter with the influenza virus.

SEIR Model

Many assumptions about COVID-19 spreading and deaths are based on the numbers of people who tested positive. The SEIR model also accounts for all the people who could test positive. ( It looks at scenarios of the four to eight times the number of people who probably have had the disease and were never tested – the asymptomatic group.

Their estimate as of today states that there may be a little over 220,000 COVID-19 deaths by November 1st. That is not outside the realm of some degree of reality given there are nearly 190,000 deaths now and another 30,000 could die within 60 days (500/day?). Their model indicates that one in 90 is currently infected (tested positive) with COVID-19 and one is seven is probably the truer figure.

Who is right? What model used the best numbers? What model is China using? They had the greatest increase initially and then deaths disappeared nearly overnight and have never returned. Do they have a cure? Or are their numbers correct?


Statistics can show results in many ways. Models can show future results in many more ways. Is COVID-19 going to disappear soon? NO! We will still be wearing masks and social distancing through next summer the way I see it – vaccine or not.

Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin –



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