COVID-19 Deaths May Hit 157,000 in August as States Record New Daily Highs

The COVID-19 death toll could hit over 157,000 by early next month, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The U.S is the country with the most known coronavirus diagnoses, at over 3.6 million of a worldwide total of 14.1 million, according to Johns Hopkins University. It also has the worst death toll, at 139,266 of 602,948.

On Thursday, the U.S. reported 977 new coronavirus deaths, with Florida and Texas breaking records for new single-day increases at 157 and 129, respectively, according to the Covid Tracking Project. The daily death toll is still lower than it was in April, which it reached over 2,000.

Based on 24 individual forecasts the CDC received from a number of top institutions, it said there will "likely" be between 150,000 and 170,000 total COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. by August 8. Taken together, the models indicate the figure will hit 157,204. The page where the CDC released the information on its website was last updated July 15.

Forecasts at the state level suggest the number of new deaths in the coming four weeks will "likely" overtake the total reported in the last four weeks in 22 states and two territories, the CDC said. The locations at greatest risk of seeing a larger number of deaths include: Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, the Virgin Islands, and West Virginia.

The CDC said such models make assumptions about factors like social distancing and other measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and may not reflect recent changes in behavior.

The predictions were provided by researchers from institutions including Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University, the U.K.'s London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of California, Los Angeles, University of Massachusetts, and other groups.

Nicholas Reich, director of the University of Massachusetts Influenza Forecasting Center of Excellence and associate professor of biostatistics and epidemiology in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences, said its national-level ensemble forecast "predicts that as a nation we will see between 4,800 and 6,000 new COVID-19 deaths each week over the next month, with around 157,000 deaths by August 8.

"Our ensemble predicts that three states will see over 1,000 more COVID-19 deaths in the next four weeks than they reported in the previous four weeks: Florida, California and Texas."

The projection preceded the U.S. reporting more than 70,000 new coronavirus cases for the second time, according to a database by The New York Times.

In recent weeks, cases have been climbing, particularly in the west and south. On Wednesday, an unpublished White House document should that 18 states are in a so-called "red zone" because they reported more than 100 new cases per 100,000 in the past week. These were: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

The document obtained by the Center for Public Integrity was prepared for the White House coronavirus task force.

On Wednesday, Dr. Cassandra M. Pierre, medical director of public health programs at Boston Medical Center, told Newsweek interpreting the gap between COVID-19 cases and deaths in different states "may be a short waiting game."

She said: "To date, we have seen high COVID-19 related death rates in rural towns in Colorado and Oklahoma and witnessed devastating losses in well-resourced states with a relatively robust public health infrastructure and relatively rapid initiation of stay-at-home orders" she said, pointing to Massachusetts and New York."

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A casket is delivered to a funeral home in Brooklyn on April 23, 2020 in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images