May 13, 2020

Experts Can't Make Up Mind on Potential Pandemic
End Game Dates Despite Decline in Texas Forecast

By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor

Just when you thought it might be safe to get back in the water you could be in striking distance for Jaws once again.

After appearing to detect light in the Texas tunnel for the first time in the COVID-19 pandemic, the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle erred on the side of judicious restraint on Tuesday by ramping up the summer death projection here the day after it had slashed it sharply.

The prestigious team of virus trackers at the University of Washington upped the fatality forecast in Texas to 3,092 for the period that ends 83 days from now on August 4 after knocking it down 27 percent to 2,567 on Monday. The latest estimate is slightly more optimistic than the projection that it had made for the Lone Star State at the end of the weekend when the analytic group in Washington state was predicting 3,262.

But the altered outlook for Texas has some news that's both comforting and troubling including an estimates that the number of people who are actually coming down with the coronavirus has been five or six times higher than the count of new cases that are being confirmed with test results. That would appear to suggest that the majority of people who are experiencing symptoms and simply never getting tested or in the group of those who've had no clues that they'd been infected.

The forecast for the daily infection rate on the flip side of the measuring stick estimates that the daily rise in confirmed coronavirus infections here peaked five days ago and will keep heading in a positive direction until it's one-fifteenth of the mark that was set late last week before the expected downswing.

The scientists at the IHME see the virus remaining on the decline with a corresponding increase in testing around the state as the spring ends and the summer unfolds.

A group of virus analysts at the University of Texas pushed its projection for a coronavirus death peak in Texas on Tuesday back a week to May 21. The UT COVID-19 Modeling Consortium estimates that the daily tally of new deaths here will start to subside until it's less than half as high on June 1 as it now.

The target dates, however, have been to swings that are as hard to comprehend as the sudden spikes and precipitous drops in the daily case and death rates during the coronavirus invasion here.

The official count of virus infections has been deceiving as well in a state where Governor Greg Abbott said that the curve had been flattened last month before a significant boost in testing effectively kept the daily number of new confirmed cases at the same basic level for the past three weeks. The prevailing sentiment among the experts seems to be that the more Texas tests for the coronavirus the sooner and lower the rates will fall until the disease is no longer a significant threat to society.

But some of the experiences that other nations around the world have reported appears to reaffirm that line of thinking. While the coronavirus has killed substantially higher numbers of people per capita in Italy and the United Kingdom and Italy, the testing rates in the countries in western Europe have considerably higher than they are in the U.S. while the infections rate has been lower in both places.

The rate of confirmed cases has been half as much in Germany as it's been here. But the rate of tests in Germany is almost three times as high as it is in the U.S.

The number of tests that have been administered in Canada on a per-capita basis is slightly higher than in the U.S. while the confirmed case rate is almost three times the size and twice as low as the death rate here. Switzerland and Portugal have tested substantially more than the U.S. with confirmed case and fatality rates considerably less.

But Iceland would be a hotter spot now than the hard-hit European counterparts based on the rate of coronavirus infections that have been recorded there up now. But the high number of cases that have been confirmed is dramatically inflated in Iceland by the fact that testing there has been more than five times as much as it's been in the U.S.


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