We all rely on our hospitals to take care of us when we are very ill. If a hospital gets too full, it doesn’t have enough space or staff to care for everyone.
So, it is important to keep track of how many people are staying in a hospital at one time. It is also important to use our forecasts to predict when hospitals might get too full.
When our hospitals start to get too full, we need to take actions to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Tracking and forecasting how many people are in our hospitals help us SAVE Lives in our community.
The Effective Reproductive Number, shown here as “Rt” helps us understand how fast COVID-19 is spreading in our community. For COVID-19, RRt tells us the average number of people who will contract this disease from each infected person.
For example, if Rt equals 1, each existing infection causes one new infection. An Rt equal to 1 means the disease will stay present and stable in our community.
If Rt is less than 1, each existing infection causes less than one new infection. Therefore, if Rt stays below 1, spread of the disease declines and it eventually leaves the community.
When Rt is more than 1, each existing COVID-19 infection causes more than one new infection. The disease will be transmitted between more and more people and the spread of the disease is growing. If Rt stays greater than 1, it can lead to many challenges, including hospitals not being able to care for everyone who gets sick.
Rt depends on people’s behavior, like wearing a mask or keeping social distance. This is why Rt can change over time. For example, in the plot around March 20th the COVID-19 value for Rt in our county was probably about 2. Then, when many people stayed home through April and May, Rt dropped below 1.
While disease modeling is helpful for planning, additional analyses help us understand the spread of COVID-19 in our community relative to others. Santa Cruz County has a lower cumulative case count and rate compared to many other California counties.
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Click Here for Local COVID-19 Forecast Models