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Model predicts W.Va. may end up with lowest COVID-19 death rate

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BECKLEY, W.Va. (WVVA) New data being used by leaders across the U.S. predicts West Virginia may end up with one of the lowest death rates in the nation thanks to quick action by leaders.

The Founders of COVID Act Now https://covidactnow.org/ are among the first to acknowledge that their data should not be used to predict the future, but rather as a tool for leaders to make fast decisions.

With no historical precedent to draw from, the team of data scientists, engineers, and designers in partnership with epidemiologists, public health officials, and political leaders are using data from the virus' spread so far to help others understand how the COVID-19 pandemic could affect their region.

Specifically, the site demonstrates the importance of 'flattening the curve,' as repeatedly highlighted by Gov. Jim Justice, (R) West Virginia, at a recent press conference.

"As we stay apart and our numbers flatten out, then our health care system can take care of us."

Due to the fact West Virginia implemented a 'Stay at Home' order early, the site lists West Virginia, Indiana, and New Mexico with a death rate over three months of less than a thousand people -- the lowest in the nation. But the site does not take into account the state's higher than average at-risk population.

The website's chart shows states which take preventative action early are rewarded later by having more available hospital beds.

The site's chart from New York also demonstrates a cautionary tale for others states which wait to act.

At a recent press conference, one of the governor's advisers, Dr. Clay Marsh acknowledged that very threat. "Information from China, which we've learned from, once you're underwater, no matter what you do, it takes about two weeks for you to recover."

The website's charts demonstrate a common theme in nearly every state; that social distancing alone will not be enough to spare hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.

By flattening the curve and staying home, the charts show how the public can give hospitals and state leaders more time to adapt.

"New York did not and now they're under water," added Dr. Marsh.

Annie Moore

Multimedia Journalist

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