February

health

Total U.S. COVID-19 deaths could hit 500,000 by February, researchers say

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 could surpass 500,000 by February unless nearly all Americans wear face masks, researchers said on Friday, as 14 states set new records for one-day increases in infections.

The latest estimate by the widely cited University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation reflects fears that cold winter weather will drive Americans indoors, where the virus is more likely to spread.

Nationwide, 76,195 new cases were reported on Thursday, according to a Reuters analysis, just shy of the single-day record high of 77,299 reported on July 16. Only India has reported more cases in a single day: 97,894, on Sept. 17.

“We are heading into a very substantial fall/winter surge,” said IHME director Chris Murray, who co-led the research.

The number of possible deaths could drop by 130,000 if 95% of Americans would cover their faces, the IHME said, echoing a recommendation by Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

U.S. Health Secretary Alex Azar attributed the increase in cases nationwide to the behavior of individuals, saying household gatherings have become a “major vector of disease spread.”

Asked about an assertion by President Donald Trump during Thursday night’s presidential debate that the United States is “rounding the turn” on the pandemic, Azar told CNN that Trump was trying to provide hope to Americans waiting for a vaccine.

FILE PHOTO: Certified nursing assistant (CNA) Shameka Johnson, wearing NFL Green Bay Packers apparel, processes a nasal swab at a drive-thru testing site outside the Southside Health Center as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S., October 21, 2020. REUTERS/Bing Guan

Pennsylvania, a swing state which is expected to play a crucial role in the Nov. 3 presidential election, reported its largest single-day increase in cases since the pandemic began.

“Daily increases are now comparable with what we saw in April 2020,” the Pennsylvania Department of Health said in a statement issued on Friday.

Also reporting record one-day increases were the states of Alaska, Arkansas, Illinois, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

HOSPITALIZATIONS CLIMB

On Thursday, there were 916 reported fatalities in the United States, a day after the country recorded over 1,200 new deaths for the first time since August.

Also on Thursday, the number of COVID-19 patients in U.S. hospitals climbed to a two-month high. There are now more than 41,000 hospitalized patients with coronavirus across the country, up 34% from Oct. 1, according to a Reuters analysis.

North Dakota, with 887 new cases on both Thursday and Friday, remains the hardest-hit state, based on new cases per capita, followed by South Dakota, Montana and Wisconsin, according to a Reuters tally.

Eight states reported record numbers of COVID-19 patients in the hospital on Friday: Alaska, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Wyoming.

In Tennessee, hospitals in Nashville said they have experienced a 40% increase in

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Wearing masks could save more than 100,000 US lives through February, new study suggests

If 95% of Americans wore masks in public, more than 100,000 lives could be saved from Covid-19 through February, a new modeling study suggests.



a person standing in front of a store: A customer wearing a face mask exits a Walgreens pharmacy in South Beach on April 14, 2020 in Miami Beach, Florida. The city of Miami Beach put in place an emergency measure requiring all customers and employees at grocery stores, restaurants and pharmacies to wear face coverings to help fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.


© Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images
A customer wearing a face mask exits a Walgreens pharmacy in South Beach on April 14, 2020 in Miami Beach, Florida. The city of Miami Beach put in place an emergency measure requiring all customers and employees at grocery stores, restaurants and pharmacies to wear face coverings to help fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study — from the Covid-19 forecasting team at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation — notes that, in September, only about 49% of US residents reported that they “always” wear a mask in public.

If mask-wearing is 49% through February and states continue with removing social distancing mandates, the Covid-19 death toll across the United States could reach about 1 million deaths by February 28, according to the study, published in the journal Nature Medicine on Friday.

Yet under the assumption that states shut down when their daily death rate exceeds 8 deaths per 1 million people in the population but mask-wearing doesn’t change, the study’s model projections forecast the death toll could reach 511,373 deaths by February 28.

The scenario that 95% of people in each state wear masks — in addition to states reinstating social distancing mandates if their daily death rates exceed 8 deaths per 1 million people — resulted in the lowest death toll projection, with 381,798 deaths by February 28, according to the study.

For the study, the researchers analyzed data on Covid-19 cases and deaths in the United States from February 1 through September 21. That analysis — along with other factors, such as pneumonia seasonality, testing rates and mask use — helped inform model projections for the course of the pandemic through February 28.

The study had some limitations, including that the findings are only forecast projections from models and not definitive about what the future holds — and mask wearing tends to fluctuate, so the 49% figure used in the study appears to now be outdated.

IHME Director Dr. Chris Murray also emphasized during a virtual press briefing on Friday that the institute’s weekly modeling projections provide more updated data than what is provided in the study. However, the study still helps offer insight into how mask-wearing can make a difference.

“We think the key point here is that there’s a huge winter surge coming and our models have been showing that for many months,” Murray said on Friday.

“You can see in the paper what universal masks can do and they blunt quite a bit of the surge or delay it,” he said. “I think it’s very difficult at the point where we are in the US — where there’s so much community transmission of the virus — to prevent some fall winter surge, but we can certainly make it much smaller.”

Murray said that “the long-range view” provided in the study “is

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U.S. COVID-19 deaths could hit half million by February as surge continues

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The COVID-19 death toll could reach a half million in the United States by February unless nearly all Americans wear face masks, researchers said on Friday, a day after the number of new infections reported across the country approached a record high.

FILE PHOTO: Certified nursing assistant (CNA) Shameka Johnson, wearing NFL Green Bay Packers apparel, processes a nasal swab at a drive-thru testing site outside the Southside Health Center as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S., October 21, 2020. REUTERS/Bing Guan

A study by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimated that the pandemic could claim a total of more than 500,000 lives by February, up from the current death toll of over 221,000. The projection reflects fears that colder winter weather will drive Americans indoors, where the virus is more likely to spread, and concerns that not enough people are wearing masks, experts said.

Cases, hospitalizations and deaths are all accelerating as cooler weather descends on much of the country. Nationwide, 76,195 new cases were reported on Thursday, just shy of the single-day record high of 77,299 reported on July 16, according to a Reuters analysis.

Only India has reported more cases in a single day: 97,894 on Sept. 17.

“We are heading into a very substantial fall/winter surge,” said IHME director Chris Murray, who co-led the research. “We expect the surge to steadily grow across different states and at the national level, and to continue to increase as we head towards high levels of daily deaths in late December and in January.”

Even so, the number of possible deaths could drop by 130,000 if 95% of Americans would cover their faces, the IHME said, echoing a recommendation championed by Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and other leading medical experts.

U.S. Health Secretary Alex Azar attributed the increase in cases nationwide to behavior of individuals, saying household gatherings have become a “major vector of disease spread.”

Asked about an assertion by President Donald Trump during Thursday night’s presidential debate that the United States is “rounding the turn” on coronavirus, Azar told CNN that Trump was trying to provide hope to Americans waiting for therapeutics and a vaccine.

A day after the president claimed, without citing evidence, that COVID-19 was “going away,” Pennsylvania, a hotly contested state in the Nov. 3 presidential election, reported its largest single-day increase in cases since the pandemic began.

“Daily increases are now comparable with what we saw in April 2020,” the Pennsylvania Department of Health wrote in a statement on Friday.

HOSPITALS STRETCHED

On Thursday, there were 916 reported fatalities in the United States, a day after the country recorded over 1,200 new deaths for the first time since August. COVID-19 deaths are up 13% from last week, averaging 785 a day over the past seven days.

Also on Thursday, the number of COVID-19 patients in U.S. hospitals climbed

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Key coronavirus model predicts nearly 80 percent rise in deaths by February

A key model foresees approximately 171,000 more coronavirus related deaths by February 2021, a number that would represent a spike of 78 percent.

The model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine suggests there will be roughly 389,087 deaths by Feb. 1.

If all Americans use face masks, the model’s best-case scenario projects 314,000 deaths by that date. The model, however, foresees more than 477,000 deaths if mask mandates are eased.

“We expect deaths to stop declining and begin increasing in the next one to two weeks,” researchers said, according to CNN. “The winter surge appears to have begun somewhat later than the surge in Europe. Daily deaths will reach over 2,000 a day in January even with many states reimposing mandates before the end of the year.”

As of Thursday morning, the United States is now averaging approximately 52,345 new daily cases, an increase of 16 percent from the previous week. 

An analysis of COVID-19 data from Johns Hopkins University reveals that 21 states are recording a peak of weekly averages of new cases since the onset of the pandemic, CNN reported

The states seeing record increases in new cases include Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Public health experts are warning that rising cases will continue to spike as the weather cools and people move indoors. 

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciTrump fields questions on coronavirus, conspiracy theories in combative town hall Chris Christie says he ‘was wrong’ not to wear face mask at White House Overnight Health Care: Georgia gets Trump approval for Medicaid work requirements, partial expansion | McConnell shoots down .8 trillion coronavirus deal MORE, the government’s top infectious disease expert, on Thursday warned that American families should “evaluate the risk-benefit” of having a Thanksgiving gathering with regard to spreading coronavirus. 

“We really have to be careful this time, and each individual family evaluate the risk-benefit of doing that, particularly when you have people coming in from out of town who may have been on airplanes, in airports,” Fauci said.

He called the current situation in the U.S. “quite concerning [and] we’ve really got to double down on the fundamental public health measures that we talk about every single day because they can make a difference.”

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