Data scientist says Hampton Roads could reopen sooner than governors' May 8 projection

Posted at 8:23 PM, Apr 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-26 00:52:14-04

As COVID-19 cases are reportedly flattening, Governors Ralph Northam and Roy Cooper announced Virginia and North Carolina could begin to reopen on May 8.

Meanwhile, Dr. Alex Pelaez, the CEO and Chief Data Scientist at 5 Element Analytics, told News 3 our region could actually begin to open on May 1st. That is based on accumulated data he researched.

"There is no one-size-fits-all for your state,” Pelaez said. “Look at your states and look at the activity in various regions."

That way, he said, people can go back to work and businesses can reopen where the pandemic is not as severe as other locations.

"When the governors are talking about opening, they're talking about opening their whole state,” Pelaez explained. “whereas what we looked for you, the Hampton Roads region, just that particular region -- That makes a big difference."

5 Element Analytics, a New York-based data and analytic firm, gathers data and produces mathematical projections for clients that include private businesses and different industrial sectors.

He said the data he used for his May 1 projection consisted of local figures. He said he is 95-percent confident about his findings and stands by it.

"We're very, very confident at about three to five days out,” Pelaez said. “When you get further than that, it gets a little bit hard."

So what would change his projection? He said if something extreme happened, such as a sudden surge in COVID-19 cases.

Though his prediction is different from what the governors said, it should not be a green light to ignore what they declared.

"I think the governors are on the side of caution across the states,” Pelaez said.

Moving forward, he said he projects the number of cases in Hampton Roads will continue to flatten. That is, if a worst-case scenario, such as what he previously mentioned, does not occur.

"At the end of the day,” Pelaez said, “the math works and it's up to us as data scientists to inform the politicians and the general public on how this works and be sensitive to that as well."