How a Lowcountry hospital is using forecasting models to predict new weekly COVID-19 cases


CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Hospitals across the Lowcountry are sounding the alarm as South Carolina’s lead health agency reports more than 5,000 total COVID-19 cases on Friday.

“We’re concerned that this surge may last a lot longer than the two previous 12-week surges,” said Chief Medical Officer and VP for Acute Care for Roper St. Francis Healthcare, Dr. Mitchell Siegan.

The hospital, like many others, is experiencing historical volumes of patients who are visiting the emergency departments on a daily basis.

“Day over day, I would say for the last two weeks established new historical highs in a number of patients we’re taking care of,” said Dr. Siegan.

He says the hospital is using forecasting models in artificial intelligence to look at the number of positive cases per day and forecast how many patients doctors expect to see next week.

“I know we expect that census to continue to rise at least for the next seven days and we predict a week from now that we will actually have a new patient census of about 120 patients,” said Dr. Siegan.

The highest number of patients that were hospitalized was 152 in July of last year.  

“As I said right now, we predict that we’ll get up to 120 patients next week, but we also don’t believe that will be the ceiling. Our forecasting models only extend out seven days at a time,” said Dr. Siegan.

With the delta variant, doctors are seeing an increase in patients between their 20’s and 50’s and say this isn’t something they saw in the first two surges.

“There are not enough people who are vaccinated in our community. People are not wearing masks and we are concerned that this pandemic and this delta surge may continue to extend beyond the range of the previous two surges,” said Dr. Siegan.

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