How to Improve Coachella Valley’s COVID-19 Projections

How to Improve Coachella Valley’s COVID-19 Projections


As an epidemiologist, we study epidemics and trends of disease in human populations, including projecting the impact of these trends on our society and healthcare system. Together with my colleague, Dr. Roch Nianogo from UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, and our epidemiology team here at Eisenhower Health, we developed a simulation model for the Coachella Valley to support the hospital and the community for a COVID 19 emergency response. The model uses what we know about the virus to date. That includes the average number of secondary cases each case generates, which in epidemiology is the R0 (pronounced R-naught). Our goal is to reduce the R0 or reproduction number, or suppress the number of cases present within the Coachella Valley to mitigate the spread of this virus. Our model for the Coachella Valley mirrors what we are seeing around the world, which is an exponential increase in cases and deaths from this virus if nothing is done. Using census population estimates, our Coachella Valley population is currently around 440,000 people. Our projections show that just in a few months time we can expect over 4,000 of our residents to be infected, with almost 800 of these having severe complications requiring hospitalization, and 200 requiring intensive care. Our goal is to provide this data for the Coachella Valley, so that health care systems can prepare. Reducing morbidity and mortality in the highest risk groups, including those over the age of 65 and those with chronic conditions – like heart disease, lung disease, diabetes – reduces both the demand on critical care and overall mortality. The most effective combination of public health interventions is currently predicted to be case isolation, home quarantine and social distancing. We must abide by these measures in order to help our healthcare systems here in the Coachella Valley, in order to not exceed their care capacity. If we do not follow these measures, in a few months we can expect over 4,000 residents to be infected with 800 needing hospitalization. But if we do follow these instructions to self isolate and quarantine when sick, we can drastically reduce these numbers and flatten the curve. Thank you.