The Louisiana Department of Health has released regional planning projections on Thursday that show that while aggressive mitigation measures appear to be effectively flattening the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) curve, the state could be grappling with the virus at least until the end of the year.
However, LDH admits that the projection models may change as more data comes in from around the state.
“Forecasting what is going to happen with COVID-19 in the state of Louisiana is challenging and nearly impossible,” said Interim Secretary of the Department of Health Stephen Russo in a release about the projections. “Just as it is impossible to forecast the exact weather and temperature on a given day.”
The models from LDH do offer some good news in that they show that the state's healthcare system will not be overburdened by patients with COVID-19.
“While these planning projections show our healthcare system may not be overwhelmed, they also show that we are not out of the woods,” said Assistant Secretary of the Office of Public Health Alex Billioux in the release. “It’s important that we continue to do our part to protect ourselves and our families.”
According to Russo, the projections show that while the state is heading in the right direction, mitigation measures should continue.
“There is significant concern that if we make sudden changes or stop social distancing that we will see another large spike and strain on our health care resources,” adds Russo.
According to LDH, there are three planning projections for each region.
The first one shows infectious persons per day under four scenarios:
- Red line: Baseline (no interventions)
- Yellow line: Scenario the state was initially planning on
- Blue line: Where we would be if we effectively practiced social distancing
- Purple line: Where we would be if we effectively stayed at home
The second two planning projections show hospitalization and vent projections under two of the above scenarios. The black line is where Louisiana is as of April 16, based on conditions on the ground. This shows most regions are currently tracking at or below the lowest projected scenario, i.e., staying at home, thanks to the concerted efforts of the healthcare system.
LDH offers a few technical notes on planning projections:
- By definition, the model’s planning projections have changed and will continue to change.
- Changes in planning projections should not be interpreted as inaccuracy of the models. Changes are largely driven by changing conditions on the ground.
- Use of these planning projections to drive the state’s response will inherently change the results of the projections daily.
The full set of regional projections, last updated on April 16, can be found at http://ldh.la.gov/COVID-19Modeling.
Next week, LDH says it will release a comprehensive brief on its modeling to date.
You can view the projection models for all regions from LDH below.