Wake County projections show what could happen if residents don't practice physical distancing

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- As Wake County enacts its stay-at-home order to stop the spread of COVID-19, officials are releasing data showing the reasoning behind the order.

As of Monday afternoon, more than 150 COVID-19 cases have been reported in the county.


On the county website, officials explained a projection model called "the doubling rate" that shows a potential rate of spread for an infectious disease.

The model shows the number of days it would take for the number of COVID-19 cases in the county to double.

In the chart, the orange line represents a doubling rate of three days, the silver line is a doubling rate of four days and the yellow line in a doubling rate of eight days. The blue line is the number of confirmed cases in Wake County.

The chart shows that the current number of cases in Wake County falls between a projected doubling rate of every three days and every four days.

An ABC11 I-Team Investigation showed WakeMed, DukeHealth and UNC Rex offer 1,607 hospital beds, including 205 ICU beds. Wake County said on average, 70 percent of those beds are typically occupied with people who need care for childbirth, heart attacks, broken bones and allergic reactions.

If the number of COVID-19 cases in Wake County were to double every three days, nearly 33,000 cases would be reported by April 15.

Wake County said current estimates show between 12 and 20 percent of people who contract COVID-19 need to be hospitalized, and 30 percent of those that need to be hospitalize require critical care in the ICU.

Using the three-day doubling rate as a baseline, out of 33,000 projected cases, between 3,960 and 6,600 would need to be hospitalized and between 1,188 and 1,980 would need ICU care. Those numbers would overwhelm hospital workers quickly.

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On the lower end of the current rate, if cases were to double every four days, Wake County projected 2,050 cases by April 15. Out of those cases, between 246 and 410 people would be hospitalized, nearly maxing out current hospital capacity. Of those hospitalized patients, between 74 and 123 people would need critical care.

In addition, Wake County said 33 percent of patients at Wake County hospitals come from surrounding counties, further limiting the number of available beds.

Wake County officials said they hope by implementing the stay-at-home order, the doubling rate will flatten to between six and eight days.

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Wake County's order, like the statewide order for North Carolina, bans residents from leaving their homes except for essential activities. Unlike the state order, Wake County's bans gatherings of any size, both public and private.

RELATED: What is an 'essential activity' under Gov. Cooper's Stay-at-Home order?

The Wake County order is currently in effect until April 16, but the state order is in effect until April 29. Both orders can be extended or rescinded at any time.
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