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Ohio coronavirus model discrepancies leave some with questions

Posted at 10:01 PM, Apr 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-07 23:24:18-04

CLEVELAND — Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton urged residents not to waver in their social distancing and hygiene habits statewide, even though there are differences in COVID-19 models in projecting the spread of coronavirus in the coming weeks.

“There’s a lot being said about modeling right now, it is not a science that predicts our outcome,” Acton said.

"It’s our actions that predict our outcome.”

“Even weather forecasts don’t use one model, they take a wide range of things.”

“It’s a very very general directional science, it’s important to think about worst case scenarios, because what we want to do, in everything we’ve done, is rule out the worst case.”

Dr. James Simon, Director of Enterprise Analytics with the Cleveland Clinic told News 5 his team uses the standard way to do an infectious epidemiology model, utilizing the SIR curve, outlining those susceptible, infectious and recovered in tracking the disease.

Simon said other organizations are using different data points and a different algorithm to arrive at a coronavirus curve.

He explained residents should keep in mind models present general information, that they shouldn't have an impact on a persons approach to coronavirus prevention.

"They all have assumptions and they all have pros and cons,” Simon said.

“It’s all basically trying to run algorithms to tell the future, and since nobody can tell the future, there are draw backs to each of them.”

“We saw the impact of the school closure order last week and we’re starting to look for impact of the stay at home order this week.”

"Whether you’re starting with deaths, whether you’re starting with confirmed cases, whether you’re starting with hospitalizations, those are the three different models. We’re using different data points."

"We’re getting great leadership from the state, the social distancing that we’re doing we think is having a beneficial impact and we need to continue it.”

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation is currently showing a more optimistic curvefor Ohio, suggesting coronavirus will peak on April 8.

A report just releasedfrom MetroHealth System suggested, "the peak for COVID-19 in Cuyahoga County may be significantly lower in the number of infections than originally expected, and that the county could see sustained impact driven by clusters of infection rather than a single large surge."

Still, Prof. David Gurarie with CWRU Mathematics and Global Health told News 5 models will have a margin of error because there are still unknowns on how coronavirus spreads.

"Unfortunately there are many uncertain things about COVID that is very difficult at the moment to include," Gurarie said

"That’s why you have big disparities in their predictions.”