The latest projection from the University of Washington Institute for Health Modeling and Assessment According to the coronavirus pandemic, nearly 135,000 people will die in the US by August, also because many states are loosening their social distance restrictions.
Other projections also anticipate a more deadly spring: a presentation that is said to have been prepared and leaked for the Trump administration The New York Times and The Washington Post Projects with up to 3,000 deaths per day in the U.S. by June 1, with a sharp increase around May 14. That is significantly higher than that Current pace of around 1,500 daily deathsand close to the previous peak rate reported in mid-April.
The White House and disease control centers declined the presentation, which bore the CDC logo. The post quoted one of the researchers who provided the data for the presentation, Justin Lasser of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, on the grounds that the modeling work was ongoing and that the projection was only one of several predictions.
The Projections by the Institute for Health Modeling and Assessment have been closely monitored by the White House and other policy makers – also because they have provided specific, albeit variable, estimates of total deaths. However, IHME's projections have also been heavily criticized by other parties – also because the models are based on tracking the pandemic in different regions of the world and not on the epidemiological characteristics of the virus.
In the past, the IHME models assumed a relatively symmetrical rise and fall in infection and death, but the models released today reflect a much longer “tail” of the course of infection.
Today, the researchers recognized that their previous modeling was not sophisticated enough. "It is becoming increasingly clear that the epidemic courses of COVID-19 – and the corresponding reactions – are very different worldwide." You wrote in an online update.
They said the revised projections reflect increasing mobility in most US states and the easing of social distancing measures expected in 31 states by May 11. Increased social interactions will promote the transmission of the virus.
WATCH: The IMHE model predicts a sharp increase in coronavirus deaths due to "mobility trends". #MTPDaily
Professor Chris Murray from @IHME_UW: The increase in numbers is due to the fact that "people are on the move, have become more active in the last week or in the last 10 days" and social distance has been relaxed. pic.twitter.com/COdH5JJV0V
– Meet the press (@MeetThePress) May 4, 2020
Measures to increase virus testing and contact tracking to identify people who may be infected, even if no symptoms appear, will not offset the effects of increased mobility, the researchers said.
"In every state, the development of the epidemic depends on the balance between relaxed social distance, rising temperatures, and increasing test and contact tracking rates." IHME director Christopher Murray said in a press release. "We expect the epidemic to now extend into the summer in many countries."
As usual, the projections are delivered with an uncertainty interval that is weighted for 95% confidence. Today's uncertainty interval to August 4, is 95,092 to 242,890 deaths in the United States. Even the lower end of this range is well above the IHME forecast of 72,433 deaths in the same period released a few days ago. For the record today Johns Hopkins University reports a cumulative US death toll more than 68,000.
Murray emphasized that the new hybrid model will be optimized in the course of the pandemic.
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"The model will allow for regular updates as new data on cases, hospitalizations, deaths, tests and mobility are released," he said. "It can also be used to identify the path to gradually loosening social distance while limiting the risk of large-scale resurgence."
Murray said it is not yet clear what effects warmer temperatures will have on the transmission of the disease. If SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, shows flu-like seasonal variability, there could be fewer cases than projected in the summer.
"At the moment, we believe that the effects of temperature on transmission are important, yet minimal," said Murray. "As summer approaches and temperatures rise, we will learn more and revise our forecasts if that is statistically relevant."
The death toll in Washington State is expected to increase from 834 on weekends to 1,159 through August 4. Just a week ago, the IHME forecast for the number of fatalities in the US state until August 4, 877.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee kicked off last week Resumption of some outdoor activities and reopening some previously closed stores as part of one Four-phase process to relax restrictions This is expected to last at least until May 31st.
The IHME model no longer provides dates on which the restrictions on social distance should be lifted. Instead, assumptions about the policy of social distancing are built into the state-to-state projections.
Regardless of applicable guidelines, individuals can reduce the risk of transmission by wearing face covers, staying 6 feet from others, avoiding large gatherings, washing their hands frequently, and minimizing facial touches.
Update for 12:15 p.m. PT May 11th: HIM has updated its estimates to project 137,184 cumulative US deaths from COVID-19 through August. That is almost 3,000 more deaths than on May 4. In the meantime, another widely observed outlook by independent data scientist Youyang Gu COVID19-projections.com anticipates 188,190 deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. by August 4.