Forecasting Model Suggests COVID-19 Deaths Could Reach Almost 300K Come October

( The outlook continues to look dire as spikes in coronavirus cases are happening across the country once again.

According to a widely-respected forecasting model, the United States can expect almost 170,000 deaths as a result of COVID-19 by October 1. As of Thursday morning, June 11, there were roughly 115,000 COVID-19 deaths reported in the U.S.

The range of deaths from the model is between 133,000 and way up to 290,000.

The model form the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington expects the daily death tolls to experience a “steep” rise come September. It expects daily deaths to decrease for June and July, and then stabilize in August before experiencing a dramatic increase come September.

The model predicts that daily deaths will more than double from 410 on September 1 all the way up to 1,018 by October 1. Fortunately, though, there is still a lot of time for the country to make changes to affect those projections in a positive way. The further out the model forecasts, the greater the potential range.

As Dr. Christopher Murray, the IHME’s director, said in a statement:

“If the U.S. is unable to check the growth in September, we could be facing worsening trends in October, November and the following months if the pandemic, as we expect, follows pneumonia seasonality. Large gatherings in some states due to lifting of social distancing restrictions, gatherings on national holidays and public protests are reflected in the general trend toward increased mobility.”

More mobility — or people moving around more — increases the potential that the virus can spread. What can decrease that spread, the IHME said, is keeping physical distance between people who aren’t members of your household and wearing masks when you can.

The IHME said mask use can result in a 50% reduction in the transmission of COVID-19. However, that data is self-reported, and there is no guarantee that data is actually representative of the entire population.

It’s not the only model that’s predicting a sharp rise in deaths, either. An independent model created by Youyang Gu, a data scientist, forecasts 201,550 deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19 by October 1. The range of that model is between 147,000 and 284,000 deaths. It also expects daily deaths to increase in July, before decreasing somewhat in August and September.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also regularly releases models and projections for COVID-19 infections and deaths, though theirs is much more short term. The model they released last week predicted 127,000 deaths by June 27 in the United States. The CDC will likely release an update to that projection in the coming days.

What all this points to, more than anything else, is continued uncertainty among experts as to what will happen in the next few months. It also points to the fact that the spread of coronavirus is in the hands of the people of the country. These models naturally predict that the more close contact between people, the greater likelihood for coronavirus transmission and, as a result, COVID-19 deaths.