People in many parts of the US are moving around as much as they did before the pandemic started, a top disease forecaster said Friday.
That’s not good, said Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, which issues regular forecasts about the coronavirus pandemic.
More movement predicts more spread of the virus.
“If you look at the mobility data collected from cell phones in many parts of the country, we're almost back to pre-Covid levels of mobility, so we're just not being as cautious as other people are in other countries,” Murray told CNN on Friday.
Murray said that when cases start to come down, people tend to start interacting more, resulting in the up and down phenomenon many states have experienced with Covid-19 cases.
“When things get bad in your own community, that's when people start sort of being really worried,” Murray said. “That level of caution creeps in. That puts the brakes on transmission.”
There are other things people can do to slow the pandemic besides staying put, Murray said.
“Our view about this is that there should be a universal mask mandate in the US, that should come with some penalty if you're caught without a mask, because we know penalties actually increase mask-wearing even more than just a mandate,” Murray said.
The latest prediction: The IHME released a model Thursday projecting nearly 300,000 deaths in the US from coronavirus by Dec. 1.
The model calculated that if 95% of the people in the US wore masks, that number could decrease to 228,271 deaths, saving more than 66,000 lives.