AN UNSETTLING new model predicts that COVID-19-related deaths in the US may hit 180,000 by Oct. 1 – and could even go up to 214,000.
The projections, from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, show 179,106 deaths, with a range of 159,497 to 213,715.
That projection drops to around 146,000 if at least 95 percent of people wear masks when out in public.
The researchers behind the new projections stressed how important safety measures will be in the coming months.
"There is no doubt that even as states open up, the United States is still grappling with a large epidemic on course to increase beginning in late August and intensifying in September," IHME Director Dr Christopher Murray said.
"People need to know that wearing masks can reduce transmission of the virus by as much as 50 percent, and those who refuse are putting their lives, their families, their friends and their communities at risk."
So far in the US, more than 121,000 people have died of the coronavirus, and nearly 2.4million have been infected, according to the latest stats from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The new projections are lower than numbers released on June 15, which stated that there could be 201,129 deaths by Oct. 1.
However, this may be because states like California have not reported deaths rising at the same rate as new cases.
Dr Murray said there could be changes to these projections as things unfold over the next few weeks.
On Wednesday, the US reported the highest single-day increase in infections to date – with 38,115 new cases, according to The Washington Post.
This surpassed the previous record of 34,203, set on April 25.
Massive outbreaks in states in the south and west of the country have the potential to unravel two months worth of progress made trying to contain the virus.
Texas, Florida and California each reported more than 5,000 cases apiece on Wednesday.
Areas of the country that had initial outbreaks, such as the New York City area, are now making moves to ensure that travelers from out-of-state don't reignite a mass spreading of the virus in their communities.
The governors from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut announced Wednesday that anyone crossing their borders after being in a state with high infections rates (meaning the rate of positive tests is above 10 percent) must complete a 14-day self-quarantine.
New York, which was once the epicenter of the pandemic, has had more than 412,000 cases and 30,000 deaths to date.
However, the infections rate has dropped significantly in the state, as well as in New Jersey and Connecticut.
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