The researcher behind the influential model by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington said on Tuesday that the United States is “speeding towards relaxing social distancing,” leaving the country on an “unfortunate trajectory” as states begin to reopen.
The model predicts that there will be 147,000 deaths in the US by August 4.
“When we started off making projections, we had assumed that all the states were going to sort of follow the New Zealand model, which is to keep social distancing in place until transmission gets to a very low level,” Dr. Christopher Murray, the director of the IHME, told CNN.
“We’re not doing that. We’re speeding towards relaxing social distancing. People are getting the message, they’re getting out,” he said. “And I think we’ll see the numbers go up unless we see the benefits of people being cautious, wearing masks – and capacities to test, contact trace and isolate go up faster than we think they may.”
Explaining the increased death projection, Murray pointed to relaxed social distancing and increased mobility – essentially people moving around more, which may lead to more contact and transmission.
“We’re seeing upward trends in case numbers in a number of states, and big swings up in mobility,” he said.