Cases and deaths continue to increase steadily in most states. The pace of increase is faster than we expected, leading us to revise upward IHME forecast of deaths and cases into the future. Our forecast assumes that states will re-impose social distancing mandates as the daily death rate exceeds 8 per million. If they do not, the death toll could be much higher. Hospital systems in most states will be under severe stress during December and January even in our best scenario. IHME has substantially revised the infection-fatality rate (IFR) used in the model. We have now accumulated considerable empirical evidence that suggests that 1) the IFR has been declining since March/April due to improvements in the clinical management of patients, and 2) the IFR varies as a function of the level of obesity in a community. Even with the improvement in IFR, the seasonality of COVID-19 with the winter months will results in a rise of cases and deaths. Vaccines will improve the situation in 2021 but will not impact the situation in the coming 2 months. Increasing mask use to 95% can save many lives.
1. What are the drivers of COVID-19 surge in the U.S.?
2. What are the projected numbers of cases and deaths?
3. What are the measures to contain the virus?