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Georgia only at the beginning of seeing fatal cases of coronavirus, model predicts

Up to 84 people could die in a single day as the outbreak peaks the week of April 22, according to Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation data.

ATLANTA — A model predicting the course of the coronavirus outbreak state-by-state points to April 23 as the worst day in Georgia, when an estimated 84 people would die during the pandemic's peak week in the state.

Emory infectious disease expert Dr. Carlos Del Rio referenced the data in a conference call with reporters on Monday. The modeling group, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, is "probably the best modeling group there is in the United States," he said.

The IMHE's COVID-19 projections predict a shortage of 594 beds and 755 ICU beds at the virus' peak in Georgia.

RELATED: As Trump seeks to reopen economy, infectious disease doctor says 'erase April'

"The best data that just came out last Friday from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation predicts the peak in Georgia the week of April 22," Dr. Del Rio said.

The IMHE is a Seattle-based organization founded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Throughout the course of the outbreak, the model predicts 2,777 total deaths in Georgia. After the peak in late April, it predicts daily deaths wold steadily drop in May before reaching zero by early June.

There are limitations to models, Dr. Del Rio said - they are constantly being tweaked and improved by new data, which comes in just about every day. But "rather than saying the model is not good, we need to see the limitations and how is it being updated and, more importantly, how do we make decision based on the data we have," he said.

RELATED: Tracking COVID-19: Georgia Coronavirus Interactive map

The model weighs government responses such as statewide stay-at-home orders, the closing of non-essential services and severe travel restrictions. Georgia has not to this point issued a blanket order on those kinds of policies.

Dr. Del Rio nonetheless said the more local decision-making Gov. Brian Kemp has encouraged is helping.

"I think the state government is doing the right thing, they're slowly doing what needs to be done," he said. "I wish it was done earlier, but that doesn't it mean it's not going to be effective."

Dr. Del Rio said he ultimately thinks that if we "erase April," as he has said before - prioritizing rigid social distancing requirements, increasing testing and continuing clinical trials into a vaccine - "I really think by early May we'll be fine," he said.

11Alive is focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. We want to keep you informed about the latest developments while ensuring that we deliver confirmed, factual information.

We will track the most important coronavirus elements relating to Georgia on this page. Refresh often for new information.

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