WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - A newly revised University of Washington model projects the United States death toll from the coronavirus will climb to just above 224,000 by Nov 1, up 16,000 from a prior forecast, due to rising infections and hospitalisations in many states.
But the latest forecast from the university's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), released late on Tuesday (July 14), also predicts the death toll can be reduced by 40,000 if nearly all Americans wear masks in public.
"Use of masks is up, but not as high as it should be. If 95 per cent of Americans wore masks each time they left their homes, infection rates would drop, hospitalisations would drop, and forecast deaths would drop," the IHME said in a statement.
The IHME's new forecast came after Alabama, Florida and North Carolina on Tuesday reported record daily increases in deaths from Covid-19, marking grim new milestones of a second wave of infections surging across much of the US.
The new IHME forecast - 224,089 US lives lost by Nov 1 - was revised upwards from the 208,254 deaths projected on July 7.
At least 136,052 Americans have died from Covid-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, while reported US infections have surpassed 3.4 million, according to a tally by Reuters.
The IHME's projections have been cited in the past by the White House and are watched closely by public health officials.