The University of Washington’s influential Covid-19 model, extended out to November 1 for the first time, estimates that 208,255 Americans will die from the virus by then, though, the death toll could be reduced by nearly 22% if mask use were to become widespread, researchers said.
The university’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) forecasts 162,808 deaths by November if at least 95% of people were to wear face coverings in public.
A Gallup poll released Monday found that 86% of adults wore masks in the past week.
Masks have become a political issue, with only 66% of Republicans reporting mask use in the poll, while President Trump continues to refuse to wear one in public and his campaign has declared them optional at recent public campaign events and rallies.
“Mask mandates delay the need for re-imposing closures of businesses and have huge economic benefits,” said IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray.
The model anticipates a surge in deaths in September and October, with the IHME noting Tuesday that, “Current data show a strong statistical relationship between Covid-19 transmission and pneumonia seasonality, which is included as a covariate in the model.”
While many of the people infected during the current surge in cases worldwide have been on the younger side, and therefore at lower risk of death, the university warns its current projection could increase if the virus is spread to at-risk populations.
The U.S. is currently experiencing a surge in cases following the easing of social distancing policies, particularly in Southern and Western states, a situation that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease official, characterized as “really not good” during an interview Monday.
President Trump, who pushed back against Fauci’s comments on Tuesday. “Well, I think we are in a good place. I disagree with him,”Trump said, according to CNN. “Dr. Fauci said don’t wear masks and now he says wear them. And he said numerous things. Don’t close off China. Don’t ban China. I did it anyway. I didn’t listen to my experts and I banned China. We would have been in much worse shape.”
57,718. That’s the new daily record for confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the U.S., reached on July 2, according to the CDC. The toll has been broken several times since June, the previous high coming in early April with 43,438. The U.S. leads the world in cases of the coronavirus with 2,981,602, as well as reported deaths with 131,248.
Both Fauci and Murry at the IHME agree that the U.S. is still deep into its first wave, as exemplified by Texas, which broke its records for cases, hospitalizations and deaths on Tuesday. Because of the situation, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner urged Texas’ GOP on Monday to cancel its in-person convention set for next week.