Key coronavirus model now doubles projected death toll

Key coronavirus model now doubles projected death toll
Posted at 3:26 PM, May 04, 2020

The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation now projects that 134,475 Americans will die from coronavirus-related illnesses through early August, doubling last week’s projection.

The model, which was updated on Monday, has an overall estimated range of 95,092 to 242,890 coronavirus-related deaths.

The IHME’s model has been frequently cited by White House officials, as it uses data to make a projection on when states should ease social distancing guidelines. But a combination of relaxed state guidelines, increased human mobility patterns, even in places where official mitigation efforts have not been eased, and longer peaks and corresponding tails, has caused the increased projection.

"We previously assumed that the mandates through the end of May," IHME Director Chris Murray said on CNN's "The Situation Room" on Monday. "Now that people are out and active, we are seeing a different story."

Murray also said that localized outbreaks in places such as meat packing plants, in addition to health officials finding previously unreported deaths, have also caused some of the projected increase.

The IHME projects that New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Michigan will have the highest cumulative COVID-19 death toll through August. But the IHME pointed to Illinois, Indiana, Georgia, California, Texas, Florida and Alabama seeing an increase in deaths.

The model now projects that Indiana will have 6,248 coronavirus deaths, which is six times the IHME’s projection from just a week ago. In Georgia, the model now predicts a death toll of 2,913, which more than doubles last week’s projection.

Although the model has been frequently used by government officials, the model has drawn some criticism for underestimating the virus’ death toll. For much of April, the IHME model projected that around 60,000 Americans would die with coronavirus-related illnesses. As of Monday afternoon, more than 68,000 deaths have been reported nationally, according to Johns Hopkins University.

To see the updated projection for your state, click here.

Justin Boggs is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @jjboggs or on Facebook .