ST. LOUIS ( -- There is positive news from researchers making predictions about the virus in Missouri and Illinois.

News 4 first started tracking projections out of the University of Washington in Seattle just about two weeks ago.

Since then, the data has changed a lot.

Researchers say this is because before, they were just prediction models, based on estimates and looking only at other countries.

Now, they are basing it on real time data and updating it every day.

The more information we have on the shape of the epidemic elsewhere, the better we can predict the likely pattern in other jurisdictions.

Theo Vos with the University of Washington said they initially had limited information. Now, as the numbers flow in, they've downgraded some of their earlier predictions.

Initially, they claimed more than 81,000 people would die from the virus in the US. Now they predict it will be closer to 60,000 people.

In Illinois, they initially predicted close to 2,500 deaths by August. Now, it’s about 1,600 deaths, researchers estimating the peak will come in just three days.

In Missouri, they initially predicted close to 3,000 deaths, but now have downgraded it to 500 with a peak in 13 days.

Big and positive changes, but the researchers say it should not change any of our rigid social distancing measures.

“These projections are taking into account all the measures, if we were to ease up early, we would likely see many more cases occurring, especially in the first wave, so it would be very unwise to early ease these restrictions,” said Vos.

Some people have been critical of these and other projections.

But researchers say it’s always a moving target and they're closely watching states in our country, including Washington and New York to help them get to these new numbers.

They say they are also starting to look at second or subsequent waves of disease.

Copyright 2020 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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