California’s stay-at-home order went into effect March 19 to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Nonessential businesses, schools and parks remain closed while millions of Californians are confined to their homes.
“The virus is very contagious, and it’s going to grow until it hits its peak,” said Dr. Peter Beilenson of the Sacramento County Public Health Department.
So when will coronavirus cases peak in California? It depends on who you ask.
Beilenson said California cases are expected to peak April 26 or April 27.
“It will probably last three or so weeks and then hopefully head back down,” he said.
Beilenson’s outlook matches those of the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluations (IHME), an independent global health research center at the University of Washington.
As of April 1, IHME’s projections show California reaching its peak hospital resource usage and peak daily deaths on April 26.
“Peak refers to the number of deaths – when the number per day begins to diminish. The ‘end’ of this wave of the pandemic would be 10 or fewer deaths nationwide,” said Dean Owen, senior manager for marketing & communications for IHME.
During a press conference Saturday, Gov. Gavin Newsom acknowledged national models that show April as the peak. But he said models from his office show a peak in the first few weeks of May.
“Our modeling is not done in isolation. It’s done in collaboration… with the systems, the health care professionals. It’s done by taking a look at everyone else’s modeling and incorporating some inputs on the basis of expectations and we recalibrate ours,” Newsom said.
There are various models that use quite a bit of variable data to “guestimate” what’s going to happen in a region or in an area, said Dr. Shane Torgerson, assistant director of the emergency room at Placerville Marshall Hospital.
“Sometimes they’ll use 15 factors or 20 factors and each one of them is a best guess analysis based on everywhere else in the world,” Torgerson said.
Regardless of the differing projections, there is one thing experts and officials can agree on: Physical distancing is effective.
“Continue to practice safe social distancing. Continue to practice physical distancing above and beyond any and everything else,” Newsom said. “We have done a remarkable job in the state of California. If we continue to do that job, we’ll continue to buy us time before that peak.”