Modelling COVID-19 outbreaks in USA with distinct testing, lockdown speed and fatigue rates

R Soc Open Sci. 2021 Aug 4;8(8):210227. doi: 10.1098/rsos.210227. eCollection 2021 Aug.


Each state in the USA exhibited a unique response to the COVID-19 outbreak, along with variable levels of testing, leading to different actual case burdens in the country. In this study, via per capita testing dependent ascertainment rates, along with case and death data, we fit a minimal epidemic model for each state. We estimate infection-level responsive lockdown/self-quarantine entry and exit rates (representing government and behavioural reaction), along with the true number of cases as of 31 May 2020. Ultimately, we provide error-corrected estimates for commonly used metrics such as infection fatality ratio and overall case ascertainment for all 55 states and territories considered, along with the USA in aggregate, in order to correlate outbreak severity with first wave intervention attributes and suggest potential management strategies for future outbreaks. We observe a theoretically predicted inverse proportionality relation between outbreak size and lockdown rate, with scale dependent on the underlying reproduction number and simulations suggesting a critical population quarantine 'half-life' of 30 days independent of other model parameters.

Keywords: COVID-19; ascertainment rate; outbreak size; testing.

Associated data

  • figshare/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.5534515