Coronavirus Deaths Could Reach Almost 500,000 By February 1, Model Says

( The second wave of the coronavirus pandemic may be arriving, as cases in many states are approaching all-time highs.

Because of this, a well-accepted model that forecasts what could happen in the coming months predicts there could be almost twice as many deaths by February 1 from COVID-19 than there are right now.

As of Thursday, the U.S. had close to 8 million confirmed coronavirus cases, with about 218,000 deaths. The model predicts that there will most likely be close to 390,000 deaths by February 1.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine model predicts a best-case scenario of 314,000 deaths by February if all Americans decide to wear masks. If some of the mask mandates are eased around the country, the model predicts the death total could rise as high as 477,000 in the next two-and-a-half months.

Researchers at the institute said:

“We expect deaths to stop declining and begin increasing in the next one to two weeks. The winter surge appears to have begun somewhat later than the surge in Europe. Daily deaths will reach over 2,000 a day in January even with many states re-imposing mandates before the end of the year.”

Data from Wednesday and Thursday of this week showed climbing coronavirus numbers. There were nearly 60,000 new cases reported on Wednesday across the country, and at least 56,000 through Thursday afternoon, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Week-over-week, the U.S. saw a 16% increase of new cases per day, up to 52,345 this week.

Baylor College of Medicine’s dean of tropical medicine, Dr. Peter Hotez, said:

“This is a very ominous sign. I think we’re in for a pretty bad fall and winter. This is the time when we could be entering one of the worst periods of our epidemic and one of the worst periods in modern American public health. I’m very worried for the nation.”

Just eight states showed a decrease in new coronavirus cases this week compared to last. They are Vermont, Texas, Delaware, Alabama, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine and Kentucky. A whopping 35% of states saw an increase of at least 10% in the last week compared to the week before.

And since Sunday, there were 21 states that recorded the highest seven-day average of new coronavirus cases since the pandemic started.

Dr. Anthony Fauci told ABC’s Good Morning America on Thursday that these numbers are “quite concerning.” He continued:

“The issue is that as we enter, as we are now, in the cooler season of the fall, and ultimately the colder season of the winter, you don’t want to be in that compromised position where your baseline daily infection is high and you are increasing as opposed to going in the other direction.”

A safe and effective vaccine is the way out of the pandemic, medical experts agree. A few companies are progressing nicely in late-stage trials for their vaccine candidates, although two have had to halt trials recently due to adverse effects experienced by participants.