Where do we go from here?: Virus outcomes depend on restrictions

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Though Gov. Kim Reynolds has insisted that a shelter-in-place order at the state level is not necessary at this time, the pressure to do so has been slowly building from some residents and local lawmakers.

A chart from the organization COVIDActNow.org, with the red curve showing COVID-19 hospitalizations in Iowa if no mitigation steps taken, orange showing social distancing for 3 months, and pale green showing shelter-in-place measures for 3 months (Courtesy: COVIDActNow.org)

New data modeling suggests that severe restrictions like that are the most likely to have significant impacts and "flatten the curve" below the level where Iowa's hospital system feels strain, according to COVIDActNow.org.

The organization, founded by engineers and Dr. Nirav R. Shah with the Stanford University Clinical Excellence Research Center, developed a model showing hospital patient load based on different response levels. It's important to note this is based on assumptions and early data, so it's not exact. The model was designed and endorsed by several doctors, epidemiologists, former state health directors and engineers.

It highlights the risk of overwhelming hospitals in each state, including Iowa.

The red curve shows the hospitalizations if we did nothing at all, which is much less than the steps currently being taken by government officials. It would quickly and drastically overtake the number of hospital beds available.

The orange shaded curve shows the patient load if we follow social distancing for three months. It reflects the potential outcome if we keep doing what we're currently doing for an extended period of time. It still overwhelms hospital capacity, shown with the black line here, by April 24, peaking in mid-May.

The other options - a shelter in place order for 3 months and a full-on quarantine like what China did when the coronavirus hit hard in Wuhan - all keep patient loads below that hospital overload level.

For more information, see the COVIDActNow website.