Michigan's coronavirus peak could come Thursday, according to estimate

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SEAN MCMINN AND DANIEL WOOD/NPR
  • Sean McMinn and Daniel Wood/NPR

Here's some more possible good news on the coronavirus front in Michigan: The worst could soon be behind us.

That's according to a new model from NPR, which uses widely cited data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

The model predicts Michigan's peak of coronavirus deaths could come Thursday, April 9, with 190 daily deaths.

So far, 845 people have died from the coronavirus in Michigan. On Monday, Michigan reported 115 deaths, the largest single-day increase so far.

In all, Michigan could see 2,963 deaths by Aug. 4. That means it could actually see fewer deaths than other states — such as Massachusetts, which has not yet implemented a stay-at-home order — despite Michigan's status as a coronavirus hotspot.

There are a number of assumptions that the model makes that are important to consider, however. For one, it assumes that all states will continue to enact social distancing measures through the end of May. That's longer than the White House has called for. In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer hasn't even officially extended her stay-at-home executive order through the end of April, though she has indicated that she likely will. But on Tuesday, Michigan's Reoublican-led Legislature met in person to deny her request to extend her state of emergency declaration to 70 days. Now, the state of emergency is only extended through April 30.

The model's researchers also warn that the model loses accuracy in hotspots. "In places where there's a rapidly rising epidemic — New York, New Jersey, now other places — the ability to predict that exact peak is not as accurate as we previously said," lead researcher Chris Murray told NPR. Michigan has the third-highest number of cases in the nation, following New York and New Jersey.

Murray also warned that if social distancing measures are relaxed too quickly, the pandemic could flare up again.

"If you ease up prematurely the epidemic can rebound right back to the level we are at now in a matter of weeks," Murray said. "So the potential for rebound is enormous if we let up on social distancing."

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