As the US surpasses 160,000 COVID-19 deaths, a new study from the Institutes for Health Metrics and Evaluation, operated by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, finds that the US could reach 300,000 dead by December 1.
Researchers behind an influential model are projecting that the US death toll from coronavirus could reach nearly 300,000 by December 1 -- but that can be changed if Americans consistently wear masks.
According to Johns Hopkins University, 159,990 people have died in the United States since the pandemic began.
"The US forecast totals 295,011 deaths by December," the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation statement says.
The model doesn't have to come true, said IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray: "The public's behavior had a direct correlation to the transmission of the virus and, in turn, the numbers of deaths.
The statement said that if 95% of the people in the US wear face coverings, the number would decrease to 228,271 deaths, and more than 66,000 lives could be saved.
Murray told CNN his group looks at studies on the effects of mask use and the best estimate is they can cut spread by 40%.
"You get this really huge effect that accumulates over time," he told Anderson Cooper, "because every individual that is wearing the mask is putting the brakes on transmission by 40%. That starts to add up."
The model comes the same day the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released an ensemble forecast that projects 181,031 deaths by August 29.
"State-level ensemble forecasts predict that the number of reported new deaths per week may increase over the next four weeks in Hawaii and Puerto Rico and may decrease in Florida, Mississippi, New Mexico, the Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Texas, Vermont and the Virgin Islands." the CDC says on its forecasting website.
The forecast relies on 24 individual forecasts from outside institutions and researchers.
Again, the biggest single factor in preventing deaths would be a national mask mandate, and that will never happen as long as Republicans are in charge. We're looking at a third of a million deaths by the end of 2020, meaning COVID-19 would be the third leading cause of death in the US this year, behind only heart disease and cancer.
But we'd have to start now, and Donald Trump will simply never allow that to happen, so tens of thousands of Americans will die as the flu season ramps us this fall and COVID becomes even more rampant, overwhelming hospitals and clinics and people die from secondary knock-on effects.
As many people are going to die as Trump allows.