UPDATED Jul. 7, 2020, at 10:02 AM

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 15 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

    1,007 deaths as of July 6

    Alaska

    16 deaths

    Arizona

    1,829 deaths

    Arkansas

    292 deaths

    California

    6,441 deaths

    Colorado

    1,691 deaths

    Connecticut

    4,338 deaths

    Delaware

    512 deaths

    District of Columbia

    561 deaths

    Florida

    3,778 deaths

    Georgia

    2,878 deaths

    Hawaii

    19 deaths

    Idaho

    94 deaths

    Illinois

    7,026 deaths

    Indiana

    2,698 deaths

    Iowa

    723 deaths

    Kansas

    285 deaths

    Kentucky

    593 deaths

    Louisiana

    3,296 deaths

    Maine

    109 deaths

    Maryland

    3,246 deaths

    Massachusetts

    8,198 deaths

    Michigan

    6,221 deaths

    Minnesota

    1,511 deaths

    Mississippi

    1,114 deaths

    Missouri

    1,051 deaths

    Montana

    23 deaths

    Nebraska

    283 deaths

    Nevada

    537 deaths

    New Hampshire

    382 deaths

    New Jersey

    15,229 deaths

    New Mexico

    515 deaths

    New York

    32,219 deaths

    North Carolina

    1,432 deaths

    North Dakota

    80 deaths

    Ohio

    2,927 deaths

    Oklahoma

    399 deaths

    Oregon

    215 deaths

    Pennsylvania

    6,754 deaths

    Rhode Island

    960 deaths

    South Carolina

    827 deaths

    South Dakota

    97 deaths

    Tennessee

    652 deaths

    Texas

    2,677 deaths

    Utah

    190 deaths

    Vermont

    56 deaths

    Virginia

    1,853 deaths

    Washington

    1,369 deaths

    West Virginia

    95 deaths

    Wisconsin

    796 deaths

    Wyoming

    20 deaths

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