UW model shows Washington could start reopening May 18

The group’s director said the potential “opening dates” are likely to change.

Associated Press

SEATTLE — Modelers at the University of Washington are starting to tackle a big question as the arc of the novel coronavirus pandemic appears to be flattening in places like Washington state: When will it be safe to begin loosening restrictions keeping the virus in check?

According to the UW’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), Washington could cross that threshold the week of May 18, the Seattle Times reported. Estimates for other states range from as early as May 4 to as late as the end of June, based on the local status of the epidemic.

The latest projections are an outgrowth of IHME’s continued work to forecast the scope of the epidemic in every state and in several other countries. They come as the group’s work, which has been influential from the White House to statehouses, is attracting criticism from some disease experts.

In a media briefing Friday, IHME director Dr. Chris Murray cautioned that the potential “opening dates” represent a first take and are likely to change as more information comes in from individual states. Among the key variables are whether deaths are likely to drop sharply once they peak, or whether — as seems to be occurring in New York — they will plateau and decrease slowly.

Another main factor will be how soon states can quickly diagnose and isolate newly infected people and everyone they have come in contact with. States that bolster their health departments and expand testing capacity might be able to start opening up sooner, Murray said.

The dates represent the modelers’ best estimate of when the daily new infection rate in each state will drop below one per 1 million people.

IHME’s modeling has been criticized for being too optimistic and too pessimistic. Earlier estimates that as many as 90,000 Americans could die have been scaled back to about 60,000, while the swings in some states have been more extreme.

In Washington, IHME initially estimated as many as 1,400 people could die from COVID-19. The model is being updated every three days as new data comes in, and the most recent estimate puts Washington’s death toll at about 855.

Talk to us

More in Northwest

NO CAPTION. Logo to accompany news of Washington state.
Democrats in Washington state choose Conrad as new leader

The Washington State Democratic Party has chosen Shasti Conrad, the former leader of King County Democrats, as its new chair.

Logo for news use featuring Whidbey Island in Island County, Washington. 220118
Port of Coupeville to make offer on Oak Harbor airport

The Port of Coupeville continues to pursue ownership of the A.J. Eisenberg Airport near Oak Harbor.

FILE - In this Monday, March 23, 2020, file photo, a worker walks near a mural of a Boeing 777 airplane at the company's manufacturing facility in Everett, Wash., north of Seattle. Beginning in 2024, some 737 planes will be built in Everett, the company announced to workers on Monday. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
With 747 out, Boeing to open new 737 Max line at Everett’s Paine Field

Since the last 747 rolled out of the factory, speculation has been rife that Boeing might move some 737 Max production to Everett.

Photo by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times
Former VA-115 member Jack Keegan speaks at a presentation on base commemorating the last crew from NAS Whidbey Island shot down during the Vietnam War.
Whidbey Island air base honors crew lost in Vietnam War

NAS Whidbey Island will host several upcoming events commemorating the end of the Vietnam War.

NO CAPTION. Logo to accompany news of Seattle.
Seattle could broaden anti-discrimination law to add caste

Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant wants to add caste to the city’s anti-discrimination policy.

FILE - In this file photo dated Monday, March 11, 2019, rescuers work at the scene of an Ethiopian Airlines plane crash south of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  The number of deaths in major air crashes around the globe fell by more than half in 2019 according to a report released Wednesday Jan. 1, 2020, by the aviation consultancy To70, revealing the worst crash for the year was an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX on March 10 that lost 157 lives. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene, FILE)
US board says Boeing Max likely hit a bird before 2019 crash

U.S. accident investigators disagree with Ethiopian authorities over the cause of a 2019 Boeing 737 Max crash.

CORRECTS DAY TO TUESDAY IN SECOND REFERENCE - This surveillance video image released by the Yakima Police Department shows a suspect sought in a shooting at a convenience store in Yakima, Wash., early on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. At least three people were killed in a random shooting Tuesday, in Yakima, and police are still searching for the suspect. (Yakima Police Department via AP).
Suspect in Yakima triple-killing shot, killed self

A 21-year-old man wanted in the random killing of three people in Yakima early Tuesday shot and killed himself.

Kevin Flynn, right, a meat-cutter with the Marysville Albertsons, hands a leaflet to a shopper during an informational campaign on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022. Flynn was one of about a dozen grocery store workers handing out leaflets to shoppers about the proposed merger between Albertsons and Kroger. (Mike Henneke / The Herald)
WA Supreme Court clears way for Albertsons’ $4 billion dividend

The case was the final obstacle to the dividend after a federal judge in Washington, D.C., rejected similar efforts.

Photo
Beard photo in Whidbey Island exhibit hits a snarl

A photography show has come under scrutiny due to an image of a man dressed as a female pirate.

This combination of 2017-2022 photos shows the logos of Facebook, YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat on mobile devices. On Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, Seattle Public Schools filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court, suing the tech giants behind TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat, seeking to hold them accountable for the mental health crisis among youth. (AP Photo)
Schools’ lawsuits over social media harm face tough legal road

The Seattle and Kent school districts’ lawsuits claim the tech giants behind TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat target their products at children.

FILE - A Boeing 737 Max jet prepares to land at Boeing Field following a test flight in Seattle, Sept. 30, 2020. Boeing said Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, that it took more than 200 net orders for passenger airplanes in December and finished 2022 with its best year since 2018, which was before two deadly crashes involving its 737 Max jet and a pandemic that choked off demand for new planes. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
Boeing orders rise to 4-year high but still trail Airbus

Boeing took more than 200 net orders for passenger airplanes in December to complete its best year since 2018, but failed again to catch up with Airbus.

FILE - Starbucks employees and supporters react as votes are read during a viewing of their union election on Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y. One year after a Starbucks in Buffalo became the first to unionize in decades - touching off a wave of labor actions at other big companies like Amazon and Chipotle - the rush to organize Starbucks stores has slowed. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex, File)
As Starbucks unionizing slows, some strike, others skeptical

Labor organizers hope this will be the year that Starbucks’ U.S. workers finally negotiate a union contract. But bargaining is at a standstill and thousands of employees are still unconvinced of the union’s value.