The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention is using projected scenarios for how the coronavirus could play out in Maine to determine whether it has enough equipment and is adequately prepared, and won’t say what the underlying numbers are driving those decisions.

Asked about specific projections of case numbers and deaths in Maine from modeling programs, CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said Friday the state isn’t trying to guess what might happen and is using modeling scenarios to make sure resources are in line with potential needs. He has said previously that modeling is intended to provide a broad range of answers to help the agency think about how it plans to respond to the pandemic.

He would not provide specific numbers from the models and has consistently avoided doing so, even though he has discussed modeling and been questioned on the topic by reporters at virtually every daily CDC briefing.

Instead, Shah gave examples Friday of how modeling is used to inform CDC decisions, such as a request to ask for 400 rather than 300 ventilators from the federal government, or how to most effectively distribute intensive care beds around the state.

Robert Long, a spokesman for the Maine CDC, said in a follow-up email after Friday’s media briefing that additional information on modeling requires more context than can be provided in the daily briefings and was not immediately available.

In general, models are not meant to provide hard numbers on how many cases and deaths may occur, or the definite outcome of a pandemic, but instead provide different scenarios that help officials determine their response and what supplies are needed.

The White House this week projected the coronavirus death toll in the U.S. could reach between 100,000 to 240,000 in a best-case scenario, though a lack of publicly available underlying data and time frame for the projection has cast doubt on its reliability.

Officials in some states, meanwhile, have discussed projections, including Massachusetts, where Gov. Charlie Baker said Friday the latest modeling in that state shows confirmed cases could range from 47,000 to 172,000 and that hospitalizations would peak between April 10 and 20.

In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that while models are constantly changing due to new data coming in, current projections for his state were showing a peak of 110,000 COVID-19 beds needed at the end of April.

A widely cited report by the University of Washington, which has forecast possible coronavirus scenarios for each state, shows Maine could experience 364 deaths by early August, with the peak of COVID-19 infections in Maine occurring around April 17.

Shah said Friday that modeling projections generally are playing into the state’s calculus for how long equipment and supplies, of which there are worldwide shortages, will last.

“Overall with all the supplies of PPE we have, is it enough?” he said. “The answer is it’s hard to tell. Part of it depends on which of the various scenarios we might think of as coming true actually materialize.”

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: