Health experts are warning that behaviors this Labor Day weekend will determine if there will be a COVID-19 spike in the fall – as a new forecast model is predicting that more than 410,000 Americans could die from COVID-19 by January if people don’t continue to wear masks.
The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation revised its forecast model on Friday to predict that deaths from COVID-19 will reach 410,000 by the end of the year.
That figure is more than double the current death toll of 186,800. The model predicts that deaths could also soar to 3,000 per day in December.
Epidemiologists said that deaths could be reduced by about 30 percent if the majority of Americans wore masks but warned that mask-wearing is already declining across the country.
The death rate projected by the IHME model, which has been cited by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, would more than triple the current death rate of some 850 per day.
The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation revised its forecast model on Friday to predict that deaths from COVID-19 will reach 410,000 by the end of the year. Epidemiologists said that deaths could be reduced by about 30 percent if the majority of Americans wore masks
Deaths have been declining nationally now for more than a month.
Fatalities related to coronavirus are a lagging indicator and can potentially rise several weeks after new cases start to decline.
It comes as health experts warned that the Labor Day holiday weekend will likely set the stage for what is to come in the fall amid the ongoing pandemic.
The US, which has now surpassed 6.15 million infections, has been averaging about 41,000 new COVID-19 cases per day for the past week.
Cases are now plateauing following an initial sharp decline in late July after surges in Sunbelt states saw average daily rates of 66,000.
Infections spiked across the US following previous holidays, including Memorial Day and July 4.
Dr William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University, said Labor Day had the potential to be an ‘accelerator weekend’ given infections are still rising in some states in the Midwest and South.
‘This is another holiday and we will see what the general population does, how careful they are or how carefree they are,’ Schaffner told CNBC.
‘I have a fair amount of trepidation, frankly, because it looks as though a very substantial portion of our population wants to be out and about very freely in groups, without masks, not paying attention to social distancing.’
The US, which has now surpassed 6.15 million infections, has been averaging about 41,000 new COVID-19 cases per day for the past week
Deaths have been declining nationally now for more than a month and are currently average about 850 a day
He fears the public will let their guard down this weekend given infections have been declining nationally in the last two months.
‘You will get a seesaw effect and I can predict that just as sure as I know the sun is going to rise in the east … We’ve got to sustain this for months. It’s not a quick fix,’ he said.
‘If there’s a tenuous commitment to social distancing and masking and all that, it will blow away over Labor Day.’
It follows a similar warning from Dr Anthony Fauci who also fears there could be a huge spike in cases.
‘We don’t want to see a repeat of the surges that we have seen following other holiday weekends,’ he told CNN on Thursday.
‘We don’t want to see a surge under any circumstances, but particularly as we go on the other side of Labor Day and enter into the fall.’
The CDC warned this week that daily infections were starting to rise in some states, particularly in the upper Great Plains, Midwest and South.
States where COVID-19 cases are currently rising include Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Nebraska and Minnesota. In the South, there has been an uptick of daily infections in West Virginia, North Carolina and Alabama.
New infections are the lowest they have been since late June and have been declining nationally for six straight weeks now. In the last week, several Midwestern states including South Dakota and Iowa have seen an uptick in cases