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May 06, 2020

Penn model forecasts another 350,000 COVID-19 deaths by July – if every state immediately reopens

Simulator weighs public health vs. economic outcomes of coronavirus pandemic

Health News Coronavirus
Wharton penn coronavirus model Bastiaan Slabbers/PhillyVoice

A new model from the University of Pennsylvania is the among the first to simulate the economic impact of coronavirus-related lockdowns against the number of deaths due to COVID-19. Above, customers pick up orders at a BBQ restaurant in Philadelphia.

A model developed by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania highlights the difficulties state officials face in balancing public health and economic factors amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Nearly 350,000 Americans would die of COVID-19 by the end of June if every state immediately lifted its stay-at-home orders and permitted all businesses to reopen, according to the simulator. And that's with people maintaining their current social distancing behaviors. But only about 500,000 people would lose their jobs. 

The model, published by Penn on Friday, was discussed in a Wharton School livestream event Tuesday. 

The model is one of the first exercises in quantifying the economic impact of lockdowns and the number of deaths due to coronavirus infection, one researcher told the New York Post. 

In the most stringent scenario – all states remain in lockdown and social distancing behaviors remain the same – there would only be 116,523 COVID-19 deaths between May 1 and June 29, according to the model. But 18.6 million people would lose their jobs. 

On the flip side, 4.1 million people would gain jobs in the same period if all orders were immediately lifted and social distancing guidelines were reduced, the simulator predicts. But 952,210 people would die.  

The model also offers projections for various partial scenarios in which orders and social distancing behaviors are partially relaxed. 

The model utilizes data from different sources, including coronavirus case data maintained by The New York Times, Google trends and unemployment insurance claims from the U.S. Department of Labor. 

Penn released the model as several states began their reopening processes. Pennsylvania is reopening on a regional basis, with some restrictions expected to ease in 24 counties on Friday

New Jersey's stay-at-home order and businesses restrictions remain in place. Despite a reopening plan having been announced, there is no timetable for them to be lifted. 

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