The latest on the coronavirus pandemic

Authors: By Ben Westcott, Adam Renton, Amy Woodyatt, Ed Upright, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya and Veronica Rocha, CNNUpdated 2:18 a.m. ET, August 22, 2020

What you need to know

  • A CDC ensemble forecast now projects nearly 195,000 people will die from coronavirus in the United States by Sept. 12.
  • As students return to US campuses, at least 15 states are reporting positive coronavirus cases at universities. Meanwhile, the White House also has officially designated teachers as “essential workers.” 
  • Just weeks after many European countries opened their borders to travelers within the continent, some are closing again, seemingly undermining efforts to salvage the continent’s vital summer tourism economy.

US coronavirus deaths could top 6,000 a day by December in worst-case scenario, expert predicts

From CNN’s Shelby Lin Erdman

The death toll from the coronavirus pandemic in the United States could spike to as high as 6,000 people a day by December in the worst-case scenario, according to Dr. Chris Murray, the chair of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.

Currently, about 1,000 people are dying daily from the coronavirus in the US.

In a new model released Friday, researchers at IHME predicted the number of daily deaths will decrease slowly in September — then rise to nearly 2,000 a day by the start of December.

But Murray told CNN that, “depending on what our leaders do,” things can get worse.

“We have a worse scenario in what we release and that’s many, many more deaths,” he said. “And in fact, by the time December rolls around, if we don’t do anything at all, the daily death toll in the US would be much higher than the 2,000 deaths a day by December. It could be as high as 6,000 deaths a day.”

The new IHME forecast projects 310,000 deaths by December — 15,000 more than the previous forecast two weeks ago. That’s because while coronavirus infections are dropping in some areas, the death rate is not.

“In some states — California is a good example — cases peaked, are coming down, but deaths haven’t,” Murray said. “We’re seeing upswings in transmission in places like Kentucky and Minnesota, Indiana.”

If mask use increased in the US to 95%, the number of deaths could drop by almost 70,000, Murray added.

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