Reich Lab Issues Weekly Projections from COVID-19 Forecast Hub (through August 29)

University of Massachusetts Biostatistics faculty Nicholas Reich

Nicholas Reich

August 5, 2020

Nicholas Reich, director of the UMass Influenza Forecasting Center of Excellence and associate professor of biostatistics in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences, has released the COVID-19 Forecast Hub's updated projections, four weeks out, for number of COVID-19 deaths nationally and by state. 

Last week, Reich’s team launched a weekly web-based report summarizing key findings from the latest modeling efforts.

According to this week’s report, the new forecast for cumulative U.S. deaths by Aug. 29 is 181,000, with between 6,500 and 7,400 deaths each week for the next four weeks. Last week’s ensemble forecast predicted between 6,900 and 7,500 deaths each week.

For the week ending Aug. 29, the ensemble shows “substantial uncertainty,” with observed deaths between 4,500 and 10,500 deemed possible.

This week’s ensemble model, curated by Reich and his team, combined forecasts from 32 models produced by teams of highly respected infectious-disease forecasters from prominent institutions.

Reich says, “We note that this week several states, most notably Texas, modified the way in which they were reporting ‘probable’ COVID-19 deaths. In Texas, this resulted in a one-time additional count of over 600 deaths in the data that we consider to be ‘ground truth.’ ”

While models in July generally showed broad agreement about the trajectory of the outbreak, “the recent surge in cases has left models with quite different interpretations about what the next few weeks hold in terms of how many reported deaths from COVID-19 we will see,” Reich’s report states.

In the report’s state-by-state breakdown, the latest model estimates that 41 states and U.S. territories have a greater than 50% chance of recording more deaths in the next two weeks compared to the past two weeks. The report also includes sortable and searchable tables that calculate an average daily number of deaths per 100,000 people in each state over the past two weeks, ending Aug. 1, and forecast for the following two weeks, ending Aug. 15.

“Looking at the rate allows for easier comparison across states, where you can see which states have had or are predicted to have proportionally higher rates in comparison to other states,” the report states.

For more information, follow Reich on Twitter @reichlab.