The US coronavirus death toll could almost double to about 400,000 by February, an influential model predicts.
This comes as the country reports the highest number of daily Covid-19 infections in almost two months, with experts offering grim outlooks if Americans don’t take precautions.
The latest forecast projects 394,693 US coronavirus deaths by February 1, 2021. That’s about 181,000 additional lives lost beyond the current US death toll of 213,860, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
The model, from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine, projects that daily deaths in the US will peak at about 2,300 in mid-January.
For comparison, Friday’s US death toll was 990, according to Johns Hopkins.
The new projections are based on current conditions. If the US eases social distancing mandates, the number of deaths could be 502,852 by February 1, the model says.
Masks make a difference, experts say. If 95% of people in the US wore them, the model projects, 79,000 fewer lives would be lost by February 1, and daily deaths would peak at less than 1,400.
Globally, the model predicts that 2,488,346 people will die from coronavirus by February 1. The model shows that if 95% of people around the world wore masks, more than three-quarters of a million lives would be saved by that date.
US cases highest since August
Johns Hopkins reported a total of 57,420 new US cases on Friday.
That is the most reported cases in a single day since August 14, when there were 64,601 new cases, the data show.
Friday’s surge of 57,420 cases marks the third consecutive day of 50,000+ reported cases in the US, Johns Hopkins says. The last time the US reported three consecutive days of more than 50,000 cases was also in mid-August.
Now Florida, which over the summer became the country’s hotspot, is “ripe for another large outbreak,” an infectious disease expert told CNN. Late last month, the state cleared the way for bars and restaurants to fully reopen and this week reported more than 6,000 cases over a two day-period.
“What they’ve done is opened up everything as if nothing had ever happened there, and you and I could be talking probably in eight to 10 weeks, and I will likely bet that Florida will be a house on fire,” Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told CNN Friday.
White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx also cautioned Friday of “early suggestions” of alarming trends in the Northeast, urging residents to take action and help prevent the spread before the virus takes off again.
“The actions this time have to happen at the personal level, in our private homes, rather than just the public spaces,”