Texas COVID-19 IHME Death Forecast If Mandates Ease Now Off the Charts

Deaths from COVID-19 in Texas are now forecast to reach an estimated 25,962 by November 1 if mandates are eased in the state. This estimate is at the very top end of the forecast model from the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).

The projection puts the death forecast for the state between 15,498 and 45,392 if measures to control the spread of the disease are lifted further. If current mandates are kept in place, the number of deaths projected is between 14,915 and 41,759, with an average estimate of 24,557. If widespread mask use is adopted, this figure falls to 16,476.

The IHME forecast of deaths is based on the latest data and, as such, the figures are subject to change depending on policies introduced and public response. At present, the IHME is forecasting 230,822 COVID-19 deaths by November 1. If masks are adopted universally, this falls to 198,830. The current death toll for the U.S., according to the CDC, is just over 150,000.

Texas has become one of the worst affected states by COVID-19. As of Thursday, over 3.6 million tests had been carried out in the state, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services dashboard. Of these, 412,107 were positive, with 6,274 fatalities.

On July 3, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order on the use of masks. It said everyone over the age of 10—other than those with certain medical conditions—should wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth while in a public space, including outdoor settings where it is not possible to maintain social distancing of six feet.

The facemask mandate was condemned by Texas Republican Representative Louie Gohmert. Having previously refused to wear a mask, on Wednesday he announced he had tested positive for the disease.

Despite resistance from some in the state, there has been huge public support for the measure. According to a poll Quinnipiac University released July 22, 80 percent of voters in Texas approved of Abbott's measure. People in the state have also shown huge concerns about the spread of the virus, with 61 percent saying it is "out of control." Seventy-four percent said the spread of COVID-19 was a serious problem, while 69 percent said they were concerned hospitals would run out of space. Just over half also said that in hindsight, the state reopened too quickly.

Abbott has said he hopes to avoid ordering another lockdown in the state. Posting to Twitter on July 20, he said the mask mandate was slowing the spread of the virus in North Texas, citing a scientific report. "The report also shows that a community lockdown is not needed as long as masks & other distancing strategies are used," he wrote.

Greg Abbott
Texas Governor Greg Abbott at a press conference on March 29. A model from the IHME has projected deaths for the state to reach around 25,000 by November 1 if the current situation remains unchanged. Tom Fox-Pool/Getty Images