University of Washington model predicts 160,000 more Americans could die from COVID-19 by February
An influential modeling group at the University of Washington predicts that about 160,000 more Americans could die from COVID-19 by Feb. 1.
This comes as the U.S. set a new daily record Friday, with more than 70,000 new cases reported – the highest daily count in months.
As well, 32 states are trending up in reporting new cases, and 12 states have just seen their highest seven-day averages of new cases.
Infectious disease expert Dr. Celine Gounder says, "People are just tired. They're tired of months of mask-wearing and social distancing. They're letting down their guard. And unfortunately, the coronavirus is not done with us yet, even if we are done with the coronavirus. So we really do need to double-down on the basic measures. Mask-wearing is number one, number two, number three."
The modeling group at the University of Washington says if 95% of Americans wore masks in public, more than 100,000 lives could be saved through February.
Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, says a vaccine won't be the magic bullet if enough people don't get it.
"I've been talking so optimistically about how we are likely to have a vaccine by the end of the year, but if only 50% of Americans are interested in taking it, we're never going to get to that point of immunity across the population where this COVID-19 goes away. It could be here for years," he says.
There are currently vastly different approaches to mask wearing across the country.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell says anyone not wearing a mask in her city could get a $500 ticket.
However, the governor in South Dakota tweeted that the government should not mandate mask wearing.
"Those who don't want to wear a mask shouldn't be shamed into it," she says. "We need to respect each other's decisions."
In Colorado, a federal judge has sided with two churches who sued, ruling that the churches don't have to limit their indoor capacity, and don't have to require parishioners to wear masks.
This goes squarely against Colorado's COVID-19 rules.
"I find that somewhat confounding,” says Dr. Gounder. “To the best of my knowledge, there is no religion in the world that does not put human life as the number one priority, the number one value."
Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, says she fears cases are spreading in private gatherings, and that Americans are letting their guard down in small get-togethers at home.