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Influential COVID-19 model forecasts nearly 170,000 deaths in US by Oct 1

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-06-12 09:07
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A customer pays for his purchase in the doorway of Dave's New York, a retail store, as phase one of reopening after lockdown begins, during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City, New York, US, June 8, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

WASHINGTON - An influential COVID-19 model produced by the University of Washington has revised its projections, forecasting nearly 170,000 COVID-19 deaths in the United States by Oct 1.

The model, from the university's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), projected 169,890 cumulative COVID-19 deaths in the country by Oct 1, with a range of 133,201 to 290,222.

The projections painted a grim picture of what could come when summer turns to fall, with a steep rise in daily deaths forecast in September.

Projections for most locations suggested that COVID-19 infections could rise between August and September, assuming that schools begin reopening for in-person instruction during this time, said an IHME release late Wednesday.

For some states, such as Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Utah, such upward trajectories could be particularly pronounced by September to October in the absence of stronger health and safety measures, according to the IHME.

"These predictions are based on our current knowledge of COVID-19 and key drivers in the US, as well as some model parameter updates to inform estimates beyond August," said the release.

"Seasonality will be a very big driver of the second wave," IHME Director Christopher Murray said Thursday.

"The increase in daily deaths really starts to gather more momentum from mid-September, onwards," he said.

Contributing to that increase are two main factors -- the steady rise in contact rates, the steady rise in mobility and the likely continued reaction of mandates over the course of the summer, combined with the increasing clear signal that seasonality is important, according to Murray.

As many states plan to reopen educational facilities and further ease currently implemented restrictions on business operations and gatherings, further improving health and safety measures will be crucial to reducing the risk of widespread resurgence.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States has topped 2 million, with 113,700 deaths, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

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