Under stay at home order, U of M modeling predicts a peak in July

The University of Minnesota released new modeling Friday that attempts to predict when the state’s hospitals will reach their capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the current stay-at-home order, which was extended earlier this week by Gov. Tim Walz to May 4, a peak is expected around July 13.

In the current scenario, the top demand for ICU beds is expected to be 3,700. At this time, the state estimates they can accommodate 2,200 ICU beds.

In another scenario, where the long-term stay-at-home order is only for the state’s most vulnerable to the dangerous effects of COVID-19, the ICU demand remains the same, as does a predicted mortality of 22,000, but the peak arrives much more quickly around June 8.

When questioned on these seemingly similar outcomes but at a greater economic cost with a full stay-at-home order, MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said that these models are not the sole factors in decision making.

Hospitals across the state are using their own, often more pessimistic, modeling for predicting when they will be able to build up capacity before the surge hits.

Some assumptions, compared to previous models, have changed. The predicted length of hospital stays for those who fall seriously ill with COVID-19 has shortened, with patient days in the hospital somewhere between seven and 23 days, and in ICU between 4 and 17 days.

The previous models were created before a death from COVID-19 occurred in Minnesota, and the new assumptions and modeling inputs have reflected that.

Now, Dr. Stefan Gildmeister, the State Health Economist, predicts that there are at least 100 times as many infected people in the state than what is reported in the daily MDH updates.

More information on the highly technical details of these models is available here.


Larissa Donovan is the News Director for the stations of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and has been, almost without interruption, since Election Day 2016. She covers events and issues in north central Minnesota, which include local government, crime, courts, education, environment and social issues. She studied communications at Bemidji State University and received her degree in 2018. Larissa, native to the great state of New York, grew up in Bemidji, and enjoys spending her spare time with her family and pet cat. She also loves Star Trek, punk rock music and the theater.


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