Experts at the University of Washington released a new hybrid model Monday projecting the nationwide death toll to reach 134,475 by Aug. 4.
The model was released by the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.
“This new model is the basis for the sobering new estimate of US deaths,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, IHME Director. “The model will allow for regular updating as new data are released on cases, hospitalizations, deaths, testing, and mobility.
Scientists credited the surge in part to rising mobility in most U.S. states as well as the easing of social distancing measures expected in 31 states by May 11.
“In each state, the evolution of the epidemic depends on the balance between relaxed social distancing, increasing temperature, and rising rates of testing and contact tracing,” Murray said. “We expect that the epidemic in many states will now extend through the summer.”
In late April, the IHME projected the nationwide death told to peak at roughly 72,000 by early August.
Murray said the spike reflects the power of social distancing and the threat of infection is still present nationwide.
‘People should be aware that the risk of infection is still there,” Murray said in a Monday press conference. “Even in New York, 85 percent of the state is susceptible. In a place like Washington, 96-97 percent are susceptible. And so the risk of infection is there and people should take appropriate precautions.”
The model tracks testing per capita, so experts said the model should accommodate for an improvement in nationwide testing capability.
The latest US forecasts are based on four key determinants estimated from data: mobility, population density, testing, and temperature.
In a release, Murray said the model does address temperature, but it’s unclear how impactful warmer days are to the nationwide death toll.
“Our understanding of the effect of temperature on transmission of the virus is rapidly evolving,” Murray said. “At the moment, we believe that the effects of temperature on transmission are important, yet minimal. As we move into summer and temperatures rise, we will learn more and will revise our projections if it is statistically relevant.”