‘Moderate-case’ model predicts 6,330 will be hospitalized in mid-January

Murphy lays out numerous scenarios — and none of them is encouraging

How’s this for a sobering read: Gov. Phil Murphy said the predictive modeling from the Department of Health indicates Jan. 13, 2021, will mark the peak of the second COVID-19 surge. On that date, the model says New Jersey will have 6,330 patients in the hospital, 1,215 in the intensive care unit and 788 on ventilators.

And those estimates come from the “moderate-case” scenario.

Murphy, speaking at his COVID-19 briefing Wednesday, offered a sobering look at New Jersey’s potential pandemic future.

“We are trying to see the whole field, not just one element,” Murphy said. “Using the data at their disposal, both the Department of Health and the Office of Innovation have been creating predictive models to help us visualize how this pandemic may play out over the coming months so we can be better prepared.”

The state currently has 3,533 patients in the hospital, 630 of which require intensive care and 412 of those needing ventilators.

Both organizations have produced models for the future. They are different — but both are grim.

The Office of Innovation’s moderate-case scenario has cases peaking on Christmas Day, with 7,180 —and predicts a peak hospitalization of 5,700 in early January.

The worst-case scenario models are even grimmer.

The DOH’s worst-case model has new cases peaking at 12,595 on Jan. 14 and the other stats peaking the day before, at 8,747 for hospitalizations, 1,679 for ICUs and 1,088 for patients on ventilators.

The OI’s worst-case model looked a little further into the future, as it had cases peaking at 8,932 on Feb. 1, 2021. Additionally, the OI had hospitalizations peaking a few days later, at 8,689 patients, with 1,632 in the ICU and 1,037 patients on ventilators.

Murphy said the reason for having two models is not to create confusion, but to take in as much data as the state can to inform future decisions.

“To be clear, this is not a competition to see whose model turns out to be more accurate,” he said. “Having these different views is essential to our ability to long-term plan.”

The governor was not willing to go into specifics as to what these types of increases will mean in terms of future actions, but he again warned that there could be more restrictions if these models prove to be accurate.

“Protecting the ability of our health care system to treat the ill is of our paramount concern,” Murphy said. “If the numbers begin to roll in where the ability to put that into question, as is the case with these models, we have no choice but to act.”