Button to scroll to the top of the page.

Updates

News

From the College of Natural Sciences
Font size: +

Updated: Model Forecasts When States, Cities Likely to See Peak in COVID-19 Deaths

Updated: Model Forecasts When States, Cities Likely to See Peak in COVID-19 Deaths
A computer model from the UT COVID-19 Modeling Consortium forecasts daily deaths from COVID-19 as of May 5, 2020. The likelihood that an area has passed its peak in daily deaths is indicated by colors ranging from burnt orange (very low) to dark purple (very high). Credit: University of Texas at Austin.

A University of Texas at Austin model that projects COVID-19 deaths for all 50 U.S. states and dozens of metro areas using geolocation data from cellphones to determine the impact of social distancing within each place finds, in many communities, deaths have likely not yet peaked. The model, originally launched with state data, was updated on April 24 to be the first publicly available model to show projections of deaths also by metro area.

UT Austin researchers released the model to provide the public and decision makers alike a way to see the daily estimate of fatalities from COVID-19 in different parts of the United States for the coming weeks.

The UT model has several similarities with a model developed by the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), but it stands in contrast because it also makes data available at the metro-area level.

The team also provided the new model to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the White House Coronavirus Task Force. The model was made available to the public and decision makers in advance of scientific peer review due to the time-sensitive nature of the subject. [For detailed technical information please view the Report: UT COVID-19 Mortality Forecasting Model.]

Shading on a map from April reflects the likelihood that a metro area was past its peak on April 24, 2020. Credit: University of Texas at Austin.

The model was developed by several UT Austin researchers: professor James Scott and professor Lauren Ancel Meyers, who leads the UT Austin COVID-19 Modeling Consortium; graduate students Spencer Woody and Mauricio Garcia Tec; research associate Spencer Fox; and professor Kelly Gaither and Maytal Dahan, both with UT Austin's Texas Advanced Computing Center. Professor Michael Lachmann of the Santa Fe Institute also contributed to the work.

"On average, there seems to be a 3-4 week lag between when someone gets infected with COVID-19 and when they're at risk of death," Meyers said in April when the model was first released. "That means we're just beginning to see the life-saving benefits—and the clear signal in the data—of social distancing that began in mid- to late March."

The UT model tracks the local impact of social distancing through GPS traces from tens of millions of mobile phones. The cellphone data, aggregated and anonymized, reflect how often people congregate in public places such as restaurants, bars, schools, parks, pharmacies and grocery stores, as well as the amount of time people spend at work versus at home. The researchers found clear evidence that the timing and extent of people's distancing behavior differ from place to place—and that these differences matter in terms of "flattening the curve." In Texas, for example, many large cities issued stay-at-home orders that began to curtail mobility many days before a statewide policy was enacted.

Using local movement data from individual U.S. states and communities to make projections, the model differs from others that drew primarily on patterns observed in other countries. Another difference in the UT researchers' model is that it accounts for greater uncertainty further in the future.

By accounting for more sources of uncertainty, the UT model projects a greater range of plausible COVID-19 deaths than other models, like the IHME model. 

"While more uncertain forecasts may be disconcerting, we believe that they reflect the true range of possibilities that could unfold in the weeks ahead," Scott said. "Our model stands on the shoulders of the IHME model, but it corrects critical statistical flaws that led the IHME model to make many projections that, in retrospect, have turned out to be far too optimistic."

The research from UT COVID-19 Modeling Consortium and the Texas Advanced Computing Center informs an interactive resource found on the new website: https://covid-19.tacc.utexas.edu/projections/

A computer model from the UT COVID-19 Modeling Consortium forecasts daily deaths from COVID-19 for the entire US and each state. Credit: University of Texas at Austin.
A Glass Box of Emotions
Mathematician and Neuroscientist Chosen for Texas ...

Comments 6

 
Guest - Earl on Friday, 17 April 2020 15:34

Are you going to publish evolving models of individual states and a cumulative for the US on a 2-3 week rotating basis?

Are you going to publish evolving models of individual states and a cumulative for the US on a 2-3 week rotating basis?
Marc G Airhart on Monday, 20 April 2020 16:53

Earl - the model is updated regularly, incorporating the latest figures on actual daily deaths in each state.

Earl - the model is updated regularly, incorporating the latest figures on actual daily deaths in each state.
Guest - Suzanne on Friday, 24 April 2020 14:07

Dr Meyer was a guest on CNN today and displayed a color-coded US map of the all states with metro areas of projected spread. I think it was based on the cell phone data. Where can I find that map?

Dr Meyer was a guest on CNN today and displayed a color-coded US map of the all states with metro areas of projected spread. I think it was based on the cell phone data. Where can I find that map?
Christine S Sinatra on Friday, 24 April 2020 14:29

Hi, Suzanne. Thanks for your interest. We have added the map to this page this afternoon.

Hi, Suzanne. Thanks for your interest. We have added the map to this page this afternoon.
Guest - Austin Resident on Friday, 22 May 2020 14:19

There used to be a possible peak projection that you could look up by state and then city. I see the mortality charts but not the possibility of the peak passing. Has that page been moved, is it no longer available, or has it been changed to the map above only? Thank you.

There used to be a possible peak projection that you could look up by state and then city. I see the mortality charts but not the possibility of the peak passing. Has that page been moved, is it no longer available, or has it been changed to the map above only? Thank you.
Christine S Sinatra on Friday, 22 May 2020 15:19

The website with the interactive can be found here: https://covid-19.tacc.utexas.edu/projections/

The website with the interactive can be found here: https://covid-19.tacc.utexas.edu/projections/
Already Registered? Login Here
Guest
Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Captcha Image