About 598,523 Americans will have died of coronavirus by July 1, according to the latest forecast from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.
That number is an increase of more than 22,000 deaths from an IHME forecast released over the weekend, which predicted about 576,026 American deaths by July 1. The team says that an increase in mobility, along with declining mask use in many states and the circulation of more contagious virus variants led to the increase in projected deaths.
“Over the last week the US has seen the largest one-week increase in mobility since the pandemic began,” the IHME team wrote in an analysis containing data through March 8. “This huge jump in mobility means 22 states have mobility levels within 10% of the pre-Covid-19 baseline.”
The latest projection is based on a scenario that accounts for continued spread of the B.1.1.7 virus variant in some locations and scale-up of Covid-19 vaccination in the US over the next few months. Under that scenario, the current projected death rate of 1,395 deaths a day could drop to 86 deaths a day by July 1. If most people wore masks, it would be just 36 deaths a day by July 1.
However, if those who have been vaccinated move toward pre-pandemic levels of mobility, the model projects 822 deaths a day by July 1. In that scenario, IHME projected 655,666 American coronavirus deaths by July.
“If more rapid behavioral relaxation than expected continues, transmission could easily increase enough to counteract the effect of vaccination scale-up and decreasing seasonality,” the IHME team said.
If 95% of Americans started wearing masks, the model projects 584,943 deaths by July 1.