By Lynn Allison (NEWSMAX)
Wearing a mask may be the answer to mitigating a dire prediction that the U.S. will see around 171,000 more deaths from COVID-19 by February 2021. That represents a 78% increase in mortality, according to statistics revealed by a model created by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine. The total of number of deaths projected by February was 389,087, according to the model.
According to The Hill, the model also forecast that if all Americans wore face masks, the number of deaths would drop to 314,000 by that date. If mask mandates are lifted, then the number could rise to 477,000 deaths.
“We expect deaths to stop declining and begin increasing in the next one to two weeks,” the researchers wrote, according to CNN. “The winter surge appears to have begun somewhat later than the surge in Europe. Daily deaths will reach over 2,000 a day in January even with many states reimposing mandates before the end of the year.”
The latest prediction has experts worried.
“This is a very ominous sign,” said Dr. Peter J. Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. “This is the time when we could be entering one of the worst periods of our epidemic and one of the worst periods in American public health.”
Thirty-five states have already shown more than a 10% increase in COVID-19 cases last week over the previous week, and 21 states have experienced a peak in new cases since the pandemic began, according to CNN. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has called these trends “concerning.”
Experts said that a vaccine would still be the best way to end the pandemic and could be available to some groups by the end of this year. Maria Van Kerkhove of the World Health Organization told CNN: “We need to think about we need to do as individuals and how each of the decisions we make can actually contribute to bringing this pandemic to an end.”