More than 137,000 coronavirus deaths by early August, new health model predicts

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A new model released by scientists at the University of Washington predicts more than 137,000 Americans will die from the coronavirus by early August.

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The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation said its updated death projection of 137,184 deaths comes as states reopen and social distancing requirements are eased.

The new numbers come after the institute’s May 4 forecast of 134,475 deaths.

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“The increase is explained primarily by people’s movements, as captured in anonymous mobility data from cellphones,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, the institute’s director, who acknowledged “we’re also seeing fewer deaths expected in some states but are now forecasting slower downward trajectories in deaths after states hit their peaks in daily deaths.”

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In Georgia, the institute is forecasting 3,596 deaths through Aug. 4, which is down from its May 4 projection of 4,913.

Murray noted the models are not predicting a resurgence or “return to exponential growth” of the epidemic in the U.S.

The findings show during the last few weeks, five states — Georgia, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota — have seen at least a 20% increase in mobility patterns. In addition, 13 states have experienced between a 15% to 20% increase: Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

“While at least some of these patterns may be related to formal easing of social distancing policies, this upward trend in movement began in several places long before state-level mandates were relaxed,” Murray said. “Unless and until we see accelerated testing, contact tracing, isolating people who test positive and widespread use of masks in public, there is a significant likelihood of new infections.”

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The U.S. has seen 1.3 million infections and nearly 80,000 deaths, the most in the world by far, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Worldwide, 4 million people have been reported infected and more than 280,000 have died, more than 150,000 of them in Europe.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is predicting the American economy will rebound in the second half of this year from unemployment rates that rival the Great Depression. In seven weeks, 33.5 million Americans have lost their jobs.

Among the institute’s other findings:

  • New York: Forecasting 31,620 deaths (estimate range of 30,105 to 33,954) through Aug. 4, down from May 4 projection of 32,132 deaths
  • Michigan: Forecasting 6,217 deaths (estimate range of 5,394 to 8,036) through Aug. 4, down from May 4 projection of 7,080 deaths
  • California: Forecasting 6,086 deaths (estimate range of 4,187 to 9,855) through Aug. 4, up from May 4 projection of 4,666 deaths
  • Texas: Forecasting 2,567 deaths (estimate range of 1,513 to 5,487) through Aug. 4, down from May 4 forecast of 3,632
  • Florida: Forecasting 5,440 deaths (estimate range of 3,027 to 11,592) through Aug. 4, up from May 4 projection of 3,971 deaths
  • New Jersey: Forecasting 14,752 deaths (estimate range of 12,255 to 19,594) through Aug. 4, down from May 4 projection of 16,044 deaths.