Deaths From Coronavirus in U.S. Could Top 80,000 By July, Analysis Finds

The coronavirus death toll in the United States could hit 80,000 by July, according to a forecast analysis by The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), an independent global health research center at the University of Washington.

"IHME's analysis, based on observed death rates, estimates that over the next four months in the US, approximately 81,000 people will die from the virus," the forecast report reads. "Estimates range from 38,000 to 162,000 U.S. deaths."

According to the report, the forecasted numbers are based on a number of different data sources including local and national governments, the World Health Organization, the American Hospital Association, and age-specific death rate data from other countries like Italy, China and South Korea.

The report comes amid a time where the U.S. has become the country with the most confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, surpassing China, where the virus originated. According to a tracker provided by Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. over 86,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, which causes the respiratory disease COVID-19. As of Friday, March 27, the U.S. has at least 1,301 deaths related to the virus.

According to the forecast report, the estimated numbers are based on the assumption that people will continue to protect themselves and their communities by following social distancing policies and all other coronavirus precautionary measures put in place by public health officials. The director of IHME and author of the report, Dr. Christopher Murray, notes in the report that if people begin to "ease up," on social distancing, the death toll could see an even larger increase.

While speaking to Newsweek, Murray added that he believes it is "very, very unlikely," that the U.S. sees a drastic change in the forecasted death toll.

"I think many people are worried the figure could be much larger," Murray told Newsweek. "It certainly can be on the lower bound of what we said, but to get below that lower bound, that would be very hard to imagine how that could happen."

"The trajectory of the pandemic will change – and dramatically for the worse – if people ease up on social distancing or relax with other precautions," Murray added. "We encourage everyone to adhere to those precautions to help save lives."

Coronavirus in U.S.
New analysis finds coronavirus death toll in U.S. could top 80,000 by July Alex Edelman/Getty

The forecast also found that the number of intensive care unit (ICU) beds needed will increase over the next few months. According to the report, 41 U.S. states will additional ICU beds and 11 states may need to increase their number of ICU beds by 50 percent or more, "to meet patient needs before the current wave of the pandemic end." The report notes that the end of the pandemic is defined as less than 10 deaths per day in the U.S.

Murray also told Newsweek that this forecast analysis will continue to be updated in the coming weeks to help prepare hospitals and medical facilities for what could come.

"One of the things that we think is important to help hospitals get ready is to keep updating these numbers so they're as accurate as possible," Murray said. "And as we do that the uncertainty in those numbers is going to shrink quite a lot."