COVID Could Kill 2,900 Daily by Dec. 30, Computer Model Says

Ralph Ellis


October 06, 2020

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

A computer model projects daily coronavirus-related deaths in the United States could rise sharply in coming months, going from around 770 now to more than 1,100 daily by the end of October; 2,000 daily by the end of November; and 2,900 daily by the end of December.

Those numbers come from the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. The end-of-the year projection of 2,900 exceeds the mid-April peak of around 2,290 actual daily deaths ― during the worst stretch of the pandemic,

The IHME is a widely cited, data-based organization that provides projections on the coronavirus and other health threats. It makes forecasts based on changing information such as weather, what is known about a disease, and how people’s actions affect it.

"Daily deaths," the IHME says, "is the best indicator of the progression of the pandemic, although there is generally a 17-21 day lag between infection and deaths."

The IHME has consistently said that coronavirus deaths and cases could be brought down by wider use of face masks. The current projections are based on face mask usage of around 50%.

If universal face mask usage existed in the United States, the IHME said, coronavirus-related daily deaths could decrease to about 1,146 at the end of the year.

Health authorities have projected deaths and case counts will rise in the fall and winter because cold weather will drive people indoors, where the virus spreads more easily. Also, the combination of flu season and the COVID-19 pandemic creates a double-barreled health problem for the United States.

"We need to hunker down and get through this fall and winter because it’s not going to be easy," Dr. Anthony Fauci said last month in an online discussion with doctors from Harvard Medical School.

The IHME is currently projecting around 360,000 coronavirus-related deaths by the end of the year.