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  • A person in a vehicle is tested with a swab at a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site operated by the District of Columbia, in Washington, D.C, USA. September 04, 2020.

    A person in a vehicle is tested with a swab at a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site operated by the District of Columbia, in Washington, D.C, USA. September 04, 2020. | Photo: EFE/EPA/Michael Reynolds

Published 4 September 2020
Opinion

According to the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the United States will reach 410,000 total deaths and up to 3,000 deaths per day by December.

Deaths could be reduced by 30% if Americans wore face masks, as epidemiologists advise. Yet, mask-wearing is declining, and due to seasonality and the public's lower risk perception, the current death rate of 850 per day could more than triple, the independent research institute noted. 

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Previously projecting 317,697 deaths by December 1, the institute, whose model has been cited by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, reports an increase of 225,000 deaths from now until the end of the year.

The United States, with the world's third-largest population, leads the globe with over 186,000 deaths and 6.1 million cases. The institute—whose dire predictions have indeed been surpassed, although its data is continuously updated—projected an even more ominous outlook for the rest of the world, predicting 2.8 million deaths by January 1. 

While U.S. infections have declined from a peak of 70,000 per day in July to around 45,000 per day now—mainly due to falling rates in large states like Florida, Texas, and California—ten states, many in the Midwest, still average more than one secondary case per infected person, an indication of rapid transmission. COVID-19 has become the second leading cause of death in the United States after heart disease, having surpassed cancer.  

With many Americans still refusing to wear masks, the institute maintains there is an "extraordinary opportunity to save lives," mentioning that "increasing mask use to the levels seen in Singapore would decrease the cumulative death toll to 288,000, or 122,000 lives saved compared to the reference scenario."

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