As the number of coronavirus cases in the United States approaches 8 million and deaths near 218,000, an influential model foresees 171,000 more Covid-19 deaths by February.
The model, from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine, forecasts there will most likely be about 389,087 deaths – or 78% more fatalities – by February 1.
The model’s best-case scenario projects 314,000 deaths by then if all Americans use masks. There could be more than 477,000 deaths if mask mandates are eased, it projects.
The data show the pandemic increasing in younger populations – and thus fewer deaths than a previous forecast. That model, released five days ago, projected about 395,000 deaths by February 1.
“We expect deaths to stop declining and begin increasing in the next one to two weeks,” researchers with the institute said. “The winter surge appears to have begun somewhat later than the surge in Europe. Daily deaths will reach over 2,000 a day in January even with many states reimposing mandates before the end of the year.”
21 states reach record 7-day average of new cases
Much of the United States continues to report an upward trend in coronavirus cases, with almost 60,000 cases announced nationwide on Wednesday and at least 56,000 reported through Thursday afternoon, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
As of Thursday, the nation is averaging 52,345 new cases a day, up 16% from the previous week, a trend that concerns health experts as we head into the cooler months.
“This is a very ominous sign. I think we’re in for a pretty bad fall and winter,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, professor and dean of tropical medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine.
“This is the time when we could be entering one of the worst periods of our epidemic and one of our worst periods in modern American public health,” he said. “I’m very worried for the nation.”