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UW model projects US coronavirus death toll could nearly double by December

According to data, if 95% of the country started consistently wearing masks today it could save about 70,000 lives.

SEATTLE — New data from the University of Washington predicts the coronavirus death toll in the United States could hit nearly 300,000 by December.

The UW's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) said Thursday it is now projecting 295,011 deaths by December.

However, if 95% of the country started consistently wearing masks when leaving their homes today, the latest projection for deaths drops by 49% to 228,271.

As of Friday morning, over 160,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S., according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

“We’re seeing a rollercoaster in the United States,” said IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray. “It appears that people are wearing masks and socially distancing more frequently as infections increase, then after a while as infections drop, people let their guard down and stop taking these measures to protect themselves and others – which, of course, leads to more infections. And the potentially deadly cycle starts over again.”

The UW model anticipates the daily death rate could force many states to reimpose stay-at-home orders and non-essential business closures.

The data suggests Oregon may have to do this by October, and Washington by November.

However, the model predicts if 95% of people would start consistently wearing masks, stricter mandates could be delayed by six to eight weeks.