Wyoming could see 142 total deaths from the COVID-19 by Aug. 4 if current practices continue, according to a statistical model by a Seattle-based research firm.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projected the first deaths will occur in the first weeks of April and peak at five deaths per day on May 4, then decline to zero by mid-June.

The model assumes continued social distancing until the end of May, according to the institute, which is an independent global research center at the University of Washington.

That's a big if.

The number of deaths and the burden on Wyoming's hospital systems will be higher than projections if stronger social distancing practices are not in place by the end of the first week in April, according to the institute.

While state government has closed educational facilities, it has not implemented a stay-at-home order, nor has it implemented the closure of nonessential services nor severe limitations on travel, the institute said.

Gov. Mark Gordon has resisted implementing a stay-at-home order, while acknowledging many Wyomingites are sheltering in place with the resultant negative economic impacts.

State and local health officials including Wyoming Medical Society President Dr. David Wheeler and Natrona County Health Officer Dr. Mark Dowell have been urging more stringent measures, adding if those restrictions are relaxed, the coronavirus could return with greater consequences.

As of Wednesday morning, the Wyoming Department of Health reported 130 cases of the COVID-19 which includes three new cases reported in Natrona County, bringing the county's number to 15. No deaths have been reported in Wyoming, which is the only state remaining with no fatalities.

Nationwide, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projects a total of 93,765 deaths by Aug. 4. However, the White House is projected 100,000 to 240,000 deaths, but those estimates could be low, according to health experts.

Besides the projected number of deaths in Wyoming, the institute looked at health care resources in the state.

It said hospital resources could reach their peak use on May 4.

The state has 1,069 available hospital beds and will need 454 to meet the needs of COVID-19 patients. (That zero shortage fares better than the nationwide total of 260,342 beds needed with a shortage of 18,905 beds, according to the institute.)

But the situation is worse regarding intensive care unit beds. The institute projected that 68 intensive care unit beds will be needed, but only 44 are available, leaving a shortage of 24 beds. The institute also estimates the hospitals will need 54 ventilators.

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