Study predicts surge in NC COVID infection rate if distancing guidelines lifted too soon


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Predictive models released by state epidemiologists and data scientists showed hospitals in North Carolina will likely reach and exceed capacity if the distancing guidelines are lifted at the end of the month.

The models showed there will likely be a shortage of hospital beds, and the number of infected patients could jump much higher.

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The projection are based on two scenarios – keeping the current plan in place, or extending it even further beyond April.

If we lift the state distancing guidelines at the end of April as planned, the study shows our hospitals could see a surge in May and June. Experts say around 750,000 North Carolinians could be infected by June.

If this were to happen, New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s Chief Clinical Director Dr. West Paul says they could be facing a serious shortage of resources, and four to five percent will need hospitalization.

He says these distancing guidelines are crucial to keeping hospitals afloat.

“We’re planning worst case scenario,” Paul said. “Probable case scenario. If we moved into a worst case scenario, we would not have the staff. We would not have the ventilators. We would not have the hospital beds to really take care of that. That’s our greatest worry as physicians and nurses and providers of care, that we don’t have enough. Including ourselves.”

However, if North Carolinians continue some social distancing past the end of April, the study shows the number of infected patients could drop half a million to 250,000.


  1. We need to lift the social distancing at the end of April, we have already severely damaged our economy and if the social distancing is extended it will be completely destroyed. We need to be willing to accept that a relatively small number elderly and people with severe health problems will likely die with the end of social distancing but that those deaths are necessary to prevent a larger loss of life in the long run

  2. everyone needs to be following the guide line that our President Trump is leading us with. AS a North Carolina residents I do not thing that our Governor Cooper is doing the job we put him in to do. If we need more beds let the trask force know they can get it done. Take Cooper out of the equation and let the core of army come in and build hospital that we need.

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