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Prominent model’s projected US death toll rises again

Healthcare workers wait for patients to be tested at a walk-in testing site on May 12, in Arlington, Virginia.Healthcare workers wait for patients to be tested at a walk-in testing site on May 12, in Arlington, Virginia. Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images

A key coronavirus model often cited by the White House has again raised its coronavirus death projection, now predicting 147,000 deaths in the US by August 4.

That’s an increase of about 10,000 deaths compared to the model’s estimate from this weekend, which was already higher than earlier projections.

On Sunday, Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, tied the earlier increase to “explosive increases in mobility in a number of states.”

Compared to Sunday, the model now projects about 2,450 additional deaths in New York, 2,000 additional deaths in Massachusetts and 1,700 additional deaths in Pennsylvania. Other states saw sizable increases as well. North Carolina, for example, is now expected to see about 3,200 more deaths, and Maryland about 1,200 more.

Some states saw decreases in projected deaths, however, including Georgia, which is now expected to see 1,500 fewer deaths. The model’s projection for Indiana has also gone down by 1,600 deaths.

On its website, IHME said exact reasons for the changes vary by state. But the institute pointed to “epidemiological indicators and key drivers of viral transmission,” like changes in testing and mobility.

IHME also pointed to the easing of social distancing policies, but said “the full potential effects of recent actions to ease social distancing policies, especially if robust containment measures have yet to be fully scaled up, may not be fully known for a few weeks due to the time periods between viral exposure, possible infection, and full disease progression.”

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