DALLAS (NEXSTAR) — A popular model referenced by the White House is projecting around 400,000 COVID-related deaths in the United States by the end of February 2021.
Forecasts from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, an independent global health research organization at the University of Washington School of Medicine, show deaths steadily climbing as we enter what health experts have labeled a “dark winter.”
The model shows a best-case scenario of 370,000 fatalities and worst-case projection of 425,000 deaths based on current health guidelines. The IMHE model predicts roughly 60,000 lives could be saved with a universal mask mandate.
This news comes as the U.S. exceeds 240,000 deaths. Back in April, President Donald Trump noted that was on the high side of expected human losses with mitigation during the coronavirus pandemic. Obviously, the number continues to grow.
The U.S. has recorded more than 10.3 million confirmed infections, with new cases soaring to all-time highs of well over 120,000 per day over the past week. Health experts have blamed the increase in part on the onset of cold weather and growing frustration with mask-wearing and other precautions.
Cases per day are on the rise in 49 states, and deaths per day are climbing in 39. A month ago, the U.S. was seeing about 730 COVID-19 deaths per day on average; that has now surpassed 970.
Among the many health officials sounding the alarm was Dr. Julie Watson of Integris Health in Oklahoma.
“We are in trouble,” she said. “If nothing is done soon to slow the rise in cases, our hospitals will be more overwhelmed than they already are and we won’t be able to be there for all of those who need it.”
Oklahoma’s health department said Wednesday that 1,248 people were hospitalized for confirmed or probable coronavirus, shattering the previous one-day record of 1,055.
The American Medical Association renewed its plea for mask-wearing, physical distancing and frequent hand-washing.
“With the holidays quickly approaching, each of us must do everything possible to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” AMA President Susan Bailey said. “Failing to do our part will prolong the suffering and disruption to our lives and inevitably lead to more deaths of our friends, neighbors and loved ones.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.