NORFOLK, Va. - As health officials try to predict how hard Virginia will be hit by the coronavirus pandemic, they're relying on models to help guide them, but each has their own prediction.
"This is not a crystal ball and these models change every single day. The indications and predictions that are made from these models change," said Sec. Dan Carey from the Dept. of Health and Human Resources during a web seminar with reporters on Monday.
Health officials have been primarily relying on three models. Each has their own pluses and minuses in how they analyze data.
The highly-cited model from the University of Washington predicts Virginia's peak to be April 26. Meanwhile, a newly compiled model from the University of Virginia says the peak may be several months off depending on social distancing guidelines.
"From the beginning, Governor Northam has made it clear that everything we do must be grounded in science," said Carey.
A third model from Penn Medicine tries to predict what supplies hospitals will need, but health officials now believe Virginia is prepared. "We are optimistic about our hospital capacity," said Carey.
As for what happens next, there aren't definitive answers at this time. "We're going to continue to need to work together in the months ahead as we determine just what are those tools and what are those triggers that let us ease up any restrictions," said Carey.
For now, Carey says everyone needs to continue practicing social distancing. "Social distancing is important and it's working in Virginia," he said. "Our actions right now and in the future will affect our outcomes and we’re also in it for the long haul."