Coronavirus model cited by White House now predicts nearly 135,000 US deaths by August

A leading coronavirus model often cited by the White House is now projecting nearly 135,000 deaths in the U.S. by early August — up from its prediction of 74,000 deaths just a week ago — driven by more people leaving isolation at home and states reopening.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington revised its projections to reflect “rising mobility” in most states, as well as the easing of social distancing measures expected by May 11 in more than 30 states.

By August 4, the projected U.S. deaths total 134,475 — with a range of 95,092 to 242,890, according to IHME.

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“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,” IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray said Monday. 

“We expect that the epidemic in many states will now extend through the summer.”  

Also on Monday, the White House dismissed a report that the administration was projecting the daily death toll to grow once social distancing is relaxed.

An internal government document obtained by the New York Times predicted the daily coronavirus death toll will reach about 3,000 people by June 1, nearly doubling the current number of about 1,750.

It also forecasts 200,000 new cases each day by the end of the month.

“This is not a White House document nor has it been presented to the Coronavirus Task Force or gone through interagency vetting," said White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere. “This data is not reflective of any of the modeling done by the task force or data that the task force has analyzed.”

More than 1.1 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the U.S. and at least 69,000 people had died in the country as of May 4.

Funeral home staff use a gurney to transport the body of a COVID-19 victim at the Stauffer Funeral Homes in Frederick, Maryland, on May 1, 2020. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

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IHME forecasts for the U.S. are now using a “hybrid model” to capture the impact of changes in social distancing mandates, changes in mobility, and the impact of testing and contact tracing. 

“This new model is the basis for the sobering new estimate of U.S. deaths,” Murray said. “The model will allow for regular updating as new data are released on cases, hospitalizations, deaths, testing, and mobility. It can also be used to identify what may be the trajectory to progressively relax social distancing while still limiting the risk of large-scale resurgence.”

This story was reported from Cincinnati. The Associated Press contributed.