By SCOTT ELNES
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Forecast modeling is a daily part of meteorology.
Every time you see Dorrell use it, every time you see me use it, we are bringing you information that takes some of the biggest supercomputers in the world to assemble.
And now those same supercomputers are being turned to forecasting how COVID-19 could play out under millions of different scenarios.
The Argonne National Laboratory outside of Chicago, a unit of the US Department of Energy, recently focused its supercomputers on the city of Chicago and created a model that literally containing data for all 2.7 million citizens. Their age, gender, race and even typical behaviors associated with those neighborhoods.
Now I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve seen forecast models be wrong…fairly regularly. They are not perfect.
But this model’s success rate has been amazingly accurate since it came online in late March. It doesn’t predict the future, it just gives a range of the most likely scenarios based off the data it’s given.
A recent model runs through the scenarios for reopening June 1st. The model forecasts the path of the virus if we maintain mindful social distancing and other preventative measures; and b) if we don’t.
The model predicts, if we move forward with a mindfulness for preventative measures, we can reduce the virus transmission by 95%. If we don’t, we will only see a 50% reduction with a second wave coming in late summer…and the second wave would rival what we saw in March and April.
Dr. Cieslak, Chief Medical Officer for Infections Diseases for The Oregon Health Authority concurs….
“It’s not like instantly we will see massive increases or anything like that. But on a sustained level with several weeks worth of transmission for example that is not checked by social distancing, I think we’re going to see ourselves back in the closing of businesses and things like that. So we need to open up, we need to get the economy moving again but we need to do so while trying to stem transmission as much as possible. “
With H1N1 back in 2009, the most noticeable peak was in the fall when school started back up again.
“You know we didn’t have a vaccine and there was a little blip and peak in April and May and then it went away for the summer. As soon as the kids got back in again, it started ramping back up again and the biggest peak for that 2009 pandemic was in mid to late October”.
Dr. Cieslak also says of all the myths he would like to bust about COVID-19, his first choice would be that it’s only about as serious as getting the flu.
“Fifteen to twenty percent of people hospitalized with COVID-19 die from it, so it is quite a bit more serious than flu, if you get it you are quite bit more likely to die from it. This is a serious disease. We do need to get our economy going again, that’s true, but it’s also true that this is a serious disease.”