An update from an influential University of Washington model paints a staggering picture of Covid deaths in the coming months -- and suggests that even a rapid vaccine rollout won't reduce that number by much.
The update from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) Friday morning projects 538,893 Americans could die from coronavirus by April 1. The model suggests daily deaths will peak in the range of 3,000 in mid-January before gradually falling.
How vaccine developments could affect that: The data suggest that a "rapid vaccine rollout" would still mean about 527,704 deaths by April 1 -- a reduction of only about 11,000. The model covers primarily the period before vaccines are expected to be widely available to the public.
Why masks are still so vital: Far more impactful, the model suggests, would be universal mask wearing. The model argues that over 66,000 American lives could be saved.
"Avoiding even larger death tolls depends critically on state governors implementing packages of mandates as hospital stress becomes high," the researchers write.
On the other end of the spectrum, the modeling shows deaths by April would soar to 717,229 if safety mandates are dropped and not renewed as cases rise.
US President-elect Joe Biden told CNN's Jake Tapper on Thursday that he will ask Americans to wear masks for the first 100 days after he takes office -- in marked departure from President Donald Trump's approach to the pandemic.
Despite the continued spread of Covid-19 in the US, there continues to be resistance to wearing masks. At an Oval Office ceremony on Thursday, few people were wearing them, according to reporters who were in the room.