As States Begin To ‘Reopen,’ COVID-19 Death Projections Are Going Up, According To The White House’s Favorite Measurement

A coronavirus death projection model often cited by the White House has revised its figures upward, meaning it predicts more people will die from the disease by the time August rolls around.


Before this week, the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) had projected that 67,000 Americans would die of COVID-19. On Monday, those figures were updated, with IHME now saying that its guess is closer to 74,000 by August.

According to the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine’s Coronavirus Resource Center, as of 3 p.m. Eastern Time, more than 57,000 Americans have died of the disease since the start of March, with more than a million cases having been identified so far.

IHME’s projections have fluctuated week-by-week, and have a 95 percent confidence level. For those who need a refresher course in statistics, that level of confidence means there’s a wider range in which the projected death toll could fall into — according to Geek Wire, the latest projection predicts as few as 56,000 and as many as 130,000 could fall victim to the disease within a matter of months, with the 74,000 figure being IHME’s best algorithmic guess.

The revised numbers also come with a new warning for states: because of the changes, the prediction for when it’s safe for states to “reopen” (or begin easing social distancing measures) has been pushed back as well, with each state being different from its neighbors or the rest of the country’s average. The earliest “best open date” is projected for West Virginia, and IHME’s predictions are for May 10.

Many states, however, have already begun to “reopen,” against the advice of health experts or even the plan put forward by President Donald Trump. It remains to be seen what will happen as a result, but many predict that the outcome won’t be good for those that are opening too soon.

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