U.S. COVID-19 death toll could rise to 410,000 by January, model projects

Brendan Morrow

A key model is projecting that the death toll from COVID-19 in the United States will rise to over 410,000 by the beginning of January.

The University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation this week forecast that by Jan. 1, the COVID-19 death toll in the U.S. will rise to 410,451, per CNN. That would be about 225,000 more COVID-19 deaths.

The IHME says it expects the daily COVID-19 death rate in the U.S. to rise to nearly 3,000 a day in December, citing "seasonality and declining vigilance of the public." It describes the use of face masks as an "extraordinary opportunity" to save lives, and the model projects that the forecasted death toll could be lowered by 122,000 by January if mask use in the United States rose "to the levels seen in Singapore." But "mask use continues to decline from a peak in early August," especially throughout the Midwest, the IHME says.

Additionally, the IHME says that should a "herd immunity strategy" be pursued, and "no further government intervention is taken from now to January," the COVID-19 death toll could increase to 620,000. This comes after The Washington Post reported that a pandemic adviser was recommending that the White House adopt a strategy of letting COVID-19 spread through most of the population. The adviser subsequently denied having recommended such a policy, and the White House said "there is no discussion about changing our strategy."

The IHME model had last month projected 295,000 COVID-19 deaths by Dec. 1. Previously, CNN's Jim Sciutto notes, the model has "undershot the death toll."

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