Computer models now project uptick in cases after mask mandate removal

Keaton Fox Image
Wednesday, March 10, 2021
New data projects uptick in cases after mask order removal
The same model shows an almost complete elimination of the virus by July if mask-wearing continues. ABC13's Keaton Fox explains.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Daily new cases of COVID-19 are projected to have a slight uptick and persist through early summer, according to data models produced by epidemic modeling experts at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

The worst-case models for new daily cases in Texas show an increase into April to a high of 17,500 new cases per day before declining, but staying strong at around 10,000 new cases per day through the summer.

The same model shows an almost complete elimination of the virus by July if mask-wearing continues.

Daily deaths are projected to decline to under 250 across the state, but as the month continues, splits and holds at 100 without masks in a worst-case scenario. Much of the uncertainty in the data centers on whether a majority of people will continue wearing masks and whether variants will continue to spread, even among vaccinated patients.

READ ALSO: Model projections for TX show 'worst-case' without mask order

What will happen without a mask mandate across the state of Texas? It might not be good news to many, according to recent data. ABC13's Keaton Fox breaks down the model projections in the video above.

Support for mask-wearing continues to be strong, according to the data. Three out of four Texans say they support a mandate and would continue to wear masks, even after the mandate went away.

It's too early for full opening, said IHME Director Chris Murray during a CNN interview Tuesday. While signs look good, he says the risk for numbers spiking again is real - as case numbers go up in Texas.

"I think there's a real risk that transmission can plateau for quite a while and even go back up if people increasingly stop wearing masks and have large gatherings," Murray said.

Data from Johns Hopkins University on Tuesday showed the two-week rolling average of new cases in the state has increased by 500.3 per day, or 10.1%. The uptick came as the state prepared to lift its masking mandate Wednesday.

The state health department on Tuesday reported a little over 4,800 new confirmed or probable cases, bringing the state's pandemic total to almost 2.7 million, an estimated 128,614 of which are now active. Texas hospitals had 4,702 COVID-19 cases on Monday, the most recent day available, 373 more than on Sunday.

The 167 new COVID-19-related fatalities reported Tuesday bring the state's pandemic death toll to 44,650.

The model says that by July 1, one billion people in the Americas will have received the vaccine, a welcome data point for most.

The IHME model was developed by the Washington School of Medicine as a way for hospitals and researchers to project where case counts could go.

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