UPDATED Apr. 12, 2021, at 5:20 PM

Where The Latest COVID-19 Models Think We're Headed — And Why They Disagree

Models predicting the potential spread of the COVID-19 pandemic have become a fixture of American life. Yet each model tells a different story about the loss of life to come, making it hard to know which one is “right.” But COVID-19 models aren’t made to be unquestioned oracles. They’re not trying to tell us one precise future, but rather the range of possibilities given the facts on the ground.

One of their more sober tasks is predicting the number of Americans who will die due to COVID-19. FiveThirtyEight — with the help of data compiled by the COVID-19 Forecast Hub — has assembled 11 models published by scientists to illustrate possible trajectories of the pandemic’s death toll. In doing so, we hope to make them more accessible, as well as highlight how the assumptions underlying the models can lead to vastly different estimates. Here are the models’ U.S. fatality projections for the coming weeks.

Forecasts like these are useful because they help us understand the most likely outcomes as well as best- and worst-case possibilities — and they can help policymakers make decisions that can lead us closer to those best-case outcomes.

And looking at multiple models is better than looking at just one because it's difficult to know which model will match reality the closest. Even when models disagree, understanding why they are different can give us valuable insight.

Coronavirus is hard to understand. FiveThirtyEight can help.

How do the models differ?

Each model makes different assumptions about properties of the novel coronavirus, such as how infectious it is and the rate at which people die once infected. They also use different types of math behind the scenes to make their projections. And perhaps most importantly, they make different assumptions about the amount of contact we should expect between people in the near future.

Understanding the underlying assumptions that each model is currently using can help us understand why some forecasts are more optimistic or pessimistic than others.

    State-by-state breakdown

    Below are individual forecasts for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

    Alabama

    10,712 deaths as of April 11

    Alaska

    313 deaths

    Arizona

    17,086 deaths

    Arkansas

    5,661 deaths

    California

    60,452 deaths

    Colorado

    6,157 deaths

    Connecticut

    7,944 deaths

    Delaware

    1,578 deaths

    District of Columbia

    1,081 deaths

    Florida

    34,021 deaths

    Georgia

    19,488 deaths

    Hawaii

    471 deaths

    Idaho

    1,993 deaths

    Illinois

    23,793 deaths

    Indiana

    13,148 deaths

    Iowa

    5,857 deaths

    Kansas

    4,895 deaths

    Kentucky

    6,250 deaths

    Louisiana

    10,216 deaths

    Maine

    750 deaths

    Maryland

    8,455 deaths

    Massachusetts

    17,387 deaths

    Michigan

    17,563 deaths

    Minnesota

    7,035 deaths

    Mississippi

    7,096 deaths

    Missouri

    8,885 deaths

    Montana

    1,523 deaths

    Nebraska

    2,220 deaths

    Nevada

    5,332 deaths

    New Hampshire

    1,257 deaths

    New Jersey

    24,870 deaths

    New Mexico

    3,976 deaths

    New York

    51,117 deaths

    North Carolina

    12,248 deaths

    North Dakota

    1,502 deaths

    Ohio

    18,827 deaths

    Oklahoma

    6,669 deaths

    Oregon

    2,440 deaths

    Pennsylvania

    25,393 deaths

    Rhode Island

    2,638 deaths

    South Carolina

    9,276 deaths

    South Dakota

    1,946 deaths

    Tennessee

    12,001 deaths

    Texas

    49,212 deaths

    Utah

    2,159 deaths

    Vermont

    231 deaths

    Virginia

    10,472 deaths

    Washington

    5,322 deaths

    West Virginia

    2,745 deaths

    Wisconsin

    7,380 deaths

    Wyoming

    701 deaths

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