In its first projections comparing different actions to control COVID-19 transmission, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington is forecasting nearly 180,000 in the United States will die by October 1.
The forecast shows 179,106 deaths (with a range of 159,497 to 213,715). Those numbers drop to 146,047 (with a range of 140,849 to 153,438), if at least 95 percent of people wear masks in public.
“There is no doubt that even as states open up, the United States is still grappling with a large epidemic on a course to increase beginning in late August and intensifying in September,” said IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray. “People need to know that wearing masks can reduce transmission of the virus by as much as 50 percent, and those who refuse are putting their lives, their families, their friends, and their communities at risk.”
The new US forecast is lower than the forecast of 201,129 deaths released on June 15. California and other states have seen over the past several weeks increasing case numbers, but deaths are not yet rising at the same rate, a trend which could change in the coming weeks
“States reporting the ages of confirmed cases suggest there are more cases being detected in younger people who are at substantially lower risk of death than older people,” Murray said. “It remains to be seen how this will unfold over the next few weeks, and if transmission continues to go up, we may see increasing infections in at-risk populations.”
IHME’s new projections include the re-imposition of strong social distancing mandates when deaths per day reach a level of 8 per one million people, but currently only Texas and Florida reach this level of resurgence before October 1. Mask wearing at current reported rates is included in the model.
“These factors are vital in our projections and highlight how many lives can be saved,” Murray said.