Population stratification enables modeling effects of reopening policies on mortality and hospitalization rates

by   Tongtong Huang, et al.

Objective: We study the influence of local reopening policies on the composition of the infectious population and their impact on future hospitalization and mortality rates. Materials and Methods: We collected datasets of daily reported hospitalization and cumulative morality of COVID 19 in Houston, Texas, from May 1, 2020 until June 29, 2020. These datasets are from multiple sources (USA FACTS, Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council COVID 19 report, TMC daily news, and New York Times county level mortality reporting). Our model, risk stratified SIR HCD uses separate variables to model the dynamics of local contact (e.g., work from home) and high contact (e.g., work on site) subpopulations while sharing parameters to control their respective R_0(t) over time. Results: We evaluated our models forecasting performance in Harris County, TX (the most populated county in the Greater Houston area) during the Phase I and Phase II reopening. Not only did our model outperform other competing models, it also supports counterfactual analysis to simulate the impact of future policies in a local setting, which is unique among existing approaches. Discussion: Local mortality and hospitalization are significantly impacted by quarantine and reopening policies. No existing model has directly accounted for the effect of these policies on local trends in infections, hospitalizations, and deaths in an explicit and explainable manner. Our work is an attempt to close this important technical gap to support decision making. Conclusion: Despite several limitations, we think it is a timely effort to rethink about how to best model the dynamics of pandemics under the influence of reopening policies.


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