Medical costs of keeping the US economy open during COVID-19

Sci Rep. 2020 Oct 28;10(1):18422. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-75280-6.


We use an individual based model and national level epidemic simulations to estimate the medical costs of keeping the US economy open during COVID-19 pandemic under different counterfactual scenarios. We model an unmitigated scenario and 12 mitigation scenarios which differ in compliance behavior to social distancing strategies and in the duration of the stay-home order. Under each scenario we estimate the number of people who are likely to get infected and require medical attention, hospitalization, and ventilators. Given the per capita medical cost for each of these health states, we compute the total medical costs for each scenario and show the tradeoffs between deaths, costs, infections, compliance and the duration of stay-home order. We also consider the hospital bed capacity of each Hospital Referral Region (HRR) in the US to estimate the deficit in beds each HRR will likely encounter given the demand for hospital beds. We consider a case where HRRs share hospital beds among the neighboring HRRs during a surge in demand beyond the available beds and the impact it has in controlling additional deaths.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19
  • Capacity Building / economics
  • Capacity Building / statistics & numerical data
  • Coronavirus Infections / economics*
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Infections / therapy
  • Health Care Costs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Facilities / economics
  • Health Facilities / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / economics
  • Infection Control / statistics & numerical data
  • Models, Statistical
  • Pandemics / economics*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / economics*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Viral / therapy
  • United States