As new coronavirus infections are detected in record-setting numbers across the Southern and Western parts of the country, causing many hospitals to be pushed past maximum capacity, a newly updated model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation predicts that the U.S. death toll from Covid-19 will rise above 224,000 by November 1.
According to Reuters, the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) projections have been previously cited by the White House and are watched closely by public health officials.
The IHME’s previous estimate, released just a week ago on July 7, projected 208,254 total fatalities by November 1.
The IHME notes that the fatality total could skyrocket to more than 240,500 if social distancing mandates are lifted and subsequently not re-imposed if daily death rates reach 8 per million.
Alabama, Florida and North Carolina have all reported record daily increases in Covid-related deaths this week, while Texas set a record for new coronavirus cases (10,745) on Tuesday and set a record for the total number of coronavirus hospitalizations in the state.
Notably, the IHME predicts America’s death toll could be reduced by nearly 40,000 if nearly all Americans wore masks in public.
“Use of masks is up, but not as high as it should be. If 95% of Americans wore masks each time they left their homes, infection rates would drop, hospitalizations would drop, and forecast deaths would drop,” the IHME said in a statement.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield said Thursday that the United States could dramatically reduce the spread of Covid-19 if Americans committed to diligently wearing face coverings in public. “The time is now,” Redfield said during an interview with the Journal of the American Medical Association. “If we could get everybody to wear a mask right now, I really do think over the next four, six, eight weeks, we could bring this epidemic under control.” However, Redfield added that the fall and winter of 2020 and 2021 are “probably going to be one of the most difficult times we’ve experienced in American public health” due to the co-occurrence of coronavirus and the flu.
3.4 Million: More than 3,445,500 people in the U.S. have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, and at least 136,300 have died, according to a New York Times database.
An Axios/Ipsos poll released this week found that 62% of Americans overall are wearing a mask “all the time,” up from 53% when the same question was asked two weeks ago.