Goldenfeld and Maslov at Pritzker's COVID-19 press conference

4/23/2020 5:18:04 PM

ABC 7 Chicago

Two Illinois faculty members spoke today at a COVID-19 press briefing held by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker.

"Modeling an epidemic is not rocket science, it's harder," notes Swanlund Professor of Physics Nigel Goldenfeld at the start of his discussion.

Goldenfeld and a team of scientists have worked to create and analyze multiple COVID-19 epidemic models for the State of Illinois. Comparing these models has enabled the team to more accurately predict the likely trajectory of the epidemic in the state.

Bliss Scholar and Professor of Bioengineering and Physics Sergei Maslov, who also spoke at the governor's press conference, says the team's models demonstrate that without the ongoing stay-at-home and social distancing practices, the death rate in Illinois from COVID-19 would likely have reached 20 times as high as it has now. The team predicts the COVID-19 infection rate will reach its peak in Illinois during May.

Governor Pritzker has extended the current stay at home order through May, based on the scientists' models.

All team members volunteered their time to assist the governor in making a difficult decision that weighed the state's economic health against potential loss of life. In addition to Goldenfeld and Maslov, the modeling team includes U. of I. Professor of Physics and Astronomy Charles Gammie, U. of I. Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Ahmed Elbanna, U. of I. graduate students George Wong (astrophysics), Zach Weiner (cosmology), and Brookhaven National Laboratory staff scientist Alexei Tkachenko.

Goldenfeld praises Illinois citizen's for having curbed the reach of COVID-19 by practicing social distancing and staying at home.

Watch the press conference on YouTube.