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University of Virginia model projects early February coronavirus peak in Virginia

Published: Dec. 21, 2020 at 6:50 PM EST
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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - Folks across our hometowns continue to adapt to pandemic living.

But new modeling suggests we aren’t out of the woods quite yet.

“We take the recent trend and project that forward,” said Bryan Lewis, University of Virginia Biocomplexity Institute research associate professor.

Lewis says the UVA model has a new peak projected for coronavirus cases in the state.

Across our region that timing varies - but most of our hometowns are projected to peak somewhere in the last weeks of January, just ahead of the model’s projection of an early February statewide peak.

The post-Thanksgiving surge is what’s leading to that projection.

“We’re assuming that basically the last couple of weeks of experience, including the current policies and people’s adherence to it, stay in place throughout,” said Lewis.

Health officials nationwide are encouraging folks to limit the number of people in their gatherings during the holidays.

Lewis says the peaks on these models could drop with those adjustments.

“So as we encourage people to have much smaller gatherings, we’ll decrease the overall level of transmission and then we can follow a path that might be a little bit more controlled,” said Lewis.

Lewis says vaccines are accounted for in the model, but because their distribution is limited at the moment, they don’t impact the prediction too much.

“It pushes in the trajectory just a little bit. It does lead to some reduction in overall cases, but again that’s sort of an optimistic view of what might end up happening,” said Lewis.

The model suggests we could see 98,000 new statewide cases in the first week of February. That figure would be 13 times higher than the summer peak.

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