UPDATED Jul. 10, 2020, at 8:00 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 16 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

    1,068 deaths as of July 9

    Alaska

    17 deaths

    Arizona

    2,038 deaths

    Arkansas

    309 deaths

    California

    6,859 deaths

    Colorado

    1,706 deaths

    Connecticut

    4,348 deaths

    Delaware

    517 deaths

    District of Columbia

    568 deaths

    Florida

    4,009 deaths

    Georgia

    2,930 deaths

    Hawaii

    19 deaths

    Idaho

    100 deaths

    Illinois

    7,329 deaths

    Indiana

    2,739 deaths

    Iowa

    741 deaths

    Kansas

    293 deaths

    Kentucky

    612 deaths

    Louisiana

    3,355 deaths

    Maine

    111 deaths

    Maryland

    3,288 deaths

    Massachusetts

    8,268 deaths

    Michigan

    6,271 deaths

    Minnesota

    1,528 deaths

    Mississippi

    1,204 deaths

    Missouri

    1,073 deaths

    Montana

    25 deaths

    Nebraska

    284 deaths

    Nevada

    571 deaths

    New Hampshire

    387 deaths

    New Jersey

    15,448 deaths

    New Mexico

    533 deaths

    New York

    32,283 deaths

    North Carolina

    1,477 deaths

    North Dakota

    85 deaths

    Ohio

    3,006 deaths

    Oklahoma

    410 deaths

    Oregon

    230 deaths

    Pennsylvania

    6,848 deaths

    Rhode Island

    974 deaths

    South Carolina

    905 deaths

    South Dakota

    101 deaths

    Tennessee

    710 deaths

    Texas

    3,006 deaths

    Utah

    205 deaths

    Vermont

    56 deaths

    Virginia

    1,937 deaths

    Washington

    1,409 deaths

    West Virginia

    95 deaths

    Wisconsin

    809 deaths

    Wyoming

    21 deaths

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