A key coronavirus model predicts that the U.S. death toll from the pandemic will exceed 389,000 by February and could total nearly 100,000 more if states roll back their preventive measures.
The model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine forecasts a death toll in the country of 389,087 people. The current death toll in the United States is more than 217,900.
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The model presents a range of projections based on the use of masks and other measures to slow the spread of the virus. It predicts that universal face coverings could save approximately 74,300 lives, though if current social distancing and face mask mandates ease, IHME forecasts a death toll of 482,931 people – more than doubling in four months the total number of fatalities since the pandemic spread to the United States.
In its policy briefing, the institute said it expects deaths to stop declining in the U.S. and begin to increase in the next one to two weeks. Daily deaths will surpass 2,000 in January even if states reimpose mandates before the end of the year.
They will peak in mid-January due to the “winter surge” at around 2,200 deaths per day.
The rate of transmission, according to the IHME, is greater than 1 across most of the northern half of U.S. states, and North Dakota currently has one of the highest COVID-19 death rates in the world.
Globally, health officials currently report more than 39 million cases of COVID-19, and more than 1.09 million people have died.