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California’s new COVID-19 assessment tool predicts increase in deaths, hospitalizations for Central Coast counties

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Santa Barbara County Public Health is developing a contingency plan based on the dire predictions from California’s COVID Assessment Tool.

Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled a new COVID-19 assessment tool on Thursday that allows researchers, scientists and all members of the public to view future predictions of COVID-19 statistics using current rates and data.

This system has been named the California COVID Assessment Tool, or CalCAT. The Governor described it as the “model of models" which illustrates the potential spread of COVID-19, including any increases in deaths and hospitalizations, over the next few weeks given current data and trends.

The system also allows users to view how fast the virus is spreading right now through the "Nowcasts" portal.

"Scenarios" provides graphs illustrating how fast the virus may spread in the far future based on hypothetical scenarios including an extended shelter in place order, the reopening of all businesses now, the reopening of essential businesses only and more.

The website allows users to view these predictions and statistics as they would effect each county. Numbers are based on multiple COVID-19 study forecasts, which means multiple potential outcomes can be viewed at once.

The predictions made for Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties can be viewed below.

Ventura County

Ventura County COVID-19 death forecasts through the week of July 19.
Ventura County COVID-19 hospitalization forecasts through the week of July 19.

Based on the CalCAT's results, Ventura County is projected to have a 688% increase in COVID-19 related deaths, bringing the total number from 43 to 339 within a few weeks. During the first few weeks of July, hospitalization rates are also anticipated to rise from the current 54 up to an average of 67. The chart shows that this increase in hospitalizations should be manageable for hospitals as the total number of beds available is 1,353.

Santa Barbara County

Santa Barbara County COVID-19 death forecasts through the week of July 19.
Santa Barbara County COVID-19 hospitalization forecasts through the week of July 19.

Based on the above predictions, Santa Barbara County may see almost 200 new COVID-19 related deaths over the next month as the death toll is predicted to rise from the current 28 to 225. SB County hospitalizations are also expected to increase by almost 50% as the Ensemble Forecast predicts an average of 74 hospitalizations per day from our current 53 hospitalization average. At this time, SB County reports there are 61 people hospitalized with the virus. The CalCAT also shows that the number of hospital beds available in SB County is plenty to compensate for next month's predicted increase.

San Luis Obispo County

San Luis Obispo County COVID-19 death forecasts through the week of July 19.

San Luis Obispo County COVID-19 hospitalization forecasts through the week of July 19.

For San Luis Obispo County, the CalCAT predicts a large increase in deaths. SLO County has not seen more than 1 death from COVID-19 since the pandemic began almost four months ago, however, the statistics available to the CalCAT forecast up to 53 deaths by the end of next month. Hospitalizations are also predicted to increase from the current 10 up to an average of 17 per day. To clarify, this would be a total of 17 patients in the hospital each day over the next few weeks and not an additional 17 patients added each day. This jump is not as significant as the death toll, however. The Ensemble Forecast for SLO County hospitalizations also shows a dramatic drop toward the beginning of July. Discrepancies between different institutions' forecasts are apparent.

California / Health / San Luis Obispo County / Santa Barbara- S County / Santa Maria - North County

Jessica Brest

Jessica Brest is a digital journalist and assignment editor at KEYT | KCOY | KKFX.