UAMS Models: July 21 Update

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UAMS released updated forecasting models for Covid-19 in Arkansas on July 21 using data through July 15. The video posted above provides a thorough overview from the people behind the models. Click here to read the full report.

What’s changed from the last update on July 7? The peak was pushed back about a month, from late October to mid- to late-November, along with a reduction in the number of projected active cases at the peak. The peak dropped from 150,000 active cases to 100,000 active cases.

Let me clarify what an active case is. Those are the people who are currently sick at any one given time. Arkansas topped 7,000 active cases for the first time on July 19. 

I should note these forecasts don’t include impacts from the mask mandate announced last week. Future models likely will. The model does show that if we’d had 50% mask usage starting in March, we would have peaked in late June and be on our way down .

Before we dive too deeply into the numbers, let’s look at a couple of topics raised in the forecast summary – an efficient test and trace program, and the disproportionate impact minorities face from the virus.


Test and Trace

First, testing and tracing. I can’t say it better than the report, so I’ll just quote it:

“We are at a time period in Arkansas in which we will learn whether we can gain some type of control over the Covid-19 epidemic in the state. It was clear from earlier and current projections Arkansas is on the verge of losing the ability to effectively contact trace because of high numbers of daily cases. To be effective, test results must be reported and cases notified and contacts traced within 24 to 48 hours.”


Demographics for hospitalized patients

Second, the report provides hospitalization statistics to outline the disproportionate impact on minorities. This is the first time I’ve seen hospitalization broken down by ethnicity, race, or gender.

What is shows is that African Americans are more likely to require hospitalization and more likely to need ICU care than their White neighbors.

Hispanic or Latino Arkansans have nearly 4 times the rate of hospitalizations than non-Hispanic/non-Latino neighbors. But if we look just at those who have tested positive for Covid and not at the larger population, Hispanic and Latino Arkansans are less likely to require hospitalization or ICU care than their non-Hispanic/non-Latino neighbors.

“This suggests the high incidence of hospitalization among Hispanics is primarily the result of a higher rate of spread in the population, rather than Hispanics testing positive being more at risk of hospitalization,” according to the summary.

Men and women are hospitalized at about the same rates, but men require ICU care more frequently than women.

While Arkansans from metro areas tend to have more hospitalizations based on overall population, within the smaller category of Arkansans diagnosed with Covid, Arkansans from non-metro areas require hospitalization and ICU care more frequently than their metro neighbors.


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The Models

One of the UAMS simulations (Model 2) gives us a “what if” look at the impact of masks, in particular a look at what might have been if we’d embraced masks earlier. If Arkansas had 50% mask adoption in public starting in March, Arkansas would have hit its peak in late June (the green line you see on the chart below.)

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Short-term Forecast (3rd degree polynomial mode)

  • 40,000 cumulative cases by July 28 (currently at 34,655)

Time series Model (excludes prisons)

By Aug. 1:

  • 39,204 cumulative cases
  • 2,680 hospitalizations (ever)
  • 864 in the ICU (Covid only)
  • 437 deaths

Long-term models

(Hospitalizations are at one time)

Peak Nov. 26 with:

  • 103,651 active cases
  • 2,591 hospitalizations
  • 777 in ICU
  • 543 on vent

Worst-case scenario (less than 5% chance) Peak Nov. 14 with:

  • 168,570 active cases
  • 4,214 hospitalized
  • 1,264 in ICU
  • 884 on vent
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Model 2

The three lines below show 3 different scenarios:

  • Red: No mitigation and summer vacation/gatherings
  • Blue: No mitigation but no summer vacation/gatherings
  • Green: If we’d had 50% mask usage starting in March

Red: Peak late Oct/early Nov w 9k daily new infections

Blue: Peak late Oct/early Nov w 6k daily new infections

Green: Past peak, downward trend Red and Blue show a decrease in daily new infections thru mid-Aug with rapid increase after Aug. 19.

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Projected Daily Deaths

Nov. 11:

Red: 21 a day

Blue: 13 a day

Green: 2 a day

“Consistent with the projection of new cases, projected deaths should decrease significantly with the implementation of mandatory mask wearing throughout the state.” (See explanation of colors above)

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About the models

The forecasts are just that – forecasts. They illuminate the path that we’re on right now. That doesn’t mean the path won’t change as behaviors change or societal events occur.

The models are updated every two weeks by the UAMS College for Public Health.

Rob Wells

Rob Wells, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Journalism at the University of Arkansas School of Journalism and Strategic Media.


The University of Arkansas School of Journalism and Strategic Media operates this site as an independent source of news and as a community service for Arkansas residents. Students produce the content here under the supervision of Rob Wells, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Journalism. The data presented here is collected at roughly the same time each day from the Arkansas Department of Health website.

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