When Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) needed to respond to the rapidly worsening COVID-19 pandemic, they needed data and projections of the pandemic’s course based upon Colorado data. A team was quickly assembled by the Colorado School of Public Health (ColoradoSPH) to collaborate with CDPHE on epidemic modeling—the basic approach for generating the needed information for decision-making.
These models are mathematical representations that reflect how viruses affect populations: infecting those who are susceptible, making some ill and in need of hospital and critical care, and leading to death for some. The models are used to examine how different measures, like closing restaurants and bars, slow and diminish the epidemic. Remembering that a model is a simulation of the world, none “are correct” but they should be useful and allow people to make hypotheses about the trajectory of a disease and the impacts of different policies and behavior changes.