Coronavirus cases in US projected to reach 8.1 million in two weeks, with high-risk scenario totaling more than 21.8 million

Last week, the GlobalData epidemiology team conducted a three-scenario forecast model of the coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission in the US, with the moderate estimate projecting more than 228,500 cases by March 31 and two million in a high-risk scenario. However, developments in the last week have shown the actual increase in confirmed cases was significantly higher than the moderate estimate.

Kasey Fu, Director of Epidemiology at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers her view on the increase in cases:

“On March 16, the US reported just 4,400 cases, which increased at an average of 41% per day for the last week to more than 41,000 confirmed cases. This daily case increase rate is higher than GlobalData had anticipated based on trends in other markets, and most importantly, due to the exponential growth pattern of COVID-19, this will significantly impact how fast cases increase in the next two weeks. 

“We adjusted the forecast model to take into account the higher daily increase rate of cases. Now, we could be looking at 733,000 total confirmed cases by March 31, almost three times as high as previously estimated. The model shows a grim two-week forecast of more than 8.1 million cases if the current rate holds. Under the high-risk scenario, we may even see more than 21.8 million cases in two weeks.

“The lack of consistent nationwide mitigation measures, increased travel during spring break, and improved access to testing in outbreak centers could all be drivers of the US’s higher transmission rate. However, even with improved testing, there is still a significant under-estimation of actual cases as most hospitals in the US are applying strict guidelines to testing, often requiring a travel history or close contact with someone who tested positive.   

“Early mitigation can have a huge impact on how many cases we see two weeks later. GlobalData’s model shows that just a 10% daily decrease in total confirmed cases during the two-week model period will result in five million less cases by the end of model period. Likewise, if mitigation is not effective, the high-risk scenario is very likely and poses serious burden on the US’ healthcare system capacity.” 

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