The death toll from the coronavirus pandemic in the United States could spike to as high as 6,000 people a day by December in the worst-case scenario, according to Dr. Chris Murray, the chair of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.
Currently, about 1,000 people are dying daily from the coronavirus in the US.
In a new model released Friday, researchers at IHME predicted the number of daily deaths will decrease slowly in September -- then rise to nearly 2,000 a day by the start of December.
But Murray told CNN that, “depending on what our leaders do,” things can get worse.
“We have a worse scenario in what we release and that’s many, many more deaths,” he said. “And in fact, by the time December rolls around, if we don't do anything at all, the daily death toll in the US would be much higher than the 2,000 deaths a day by December. It could be as high as 6,000 deaths a day.”
The new IHME forecast projects 310,000 deaths by December -- 15,000 more than the previous forecast two weeks ago. That’s because while coronavirus infections are dropping in some areas, the death rate is not.
“In some states -- California is a good example -- cases peaked, are coming down, but deaths haven't,” Murray said. “We're seeing upswings in transmission in places like Kentucky and Minnesota, Indiana.”
If mask use increased in the US to 95%, the number of deaths could drop by almost 70,000, Murray added.