A revised coronavirus death forecast for the United States, released Thursday, projects the nation will see a total of 317,697 virus-linked deaths by Dec. 1.
That’s an increase of about 8,000 deaths from last week’s earlier forecast issued by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.
As of Thursday, the U.S. had recorded 5,863,363 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 180,595 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The rate of new cases has declined in recent weeks, but the death rate has remained steady at around 1,000 a day since early August.
COVID-19 is currently the second leading cause of death in the U.S., after ischemic heart disease. The IHME predicts the virus will be the nation’s leading cause of death by December, when 2,000 deaths a day are expected.
About half of the U.S. population currently wears a mask in public. If a nationwide mask mandate were to be implemented and 95% of people complied, the IMHE predicted, there would be 249,833 deaths by December — a reduction of 67,864 deaths from the current forecast.
According to Axios, 34 states and Washington, D.C., currently have some form of a mask mandate.
President Trump recently encouraged Americans to wear masks, but he still rejects calls for a national mask mandate.
Meanwhile, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has called for mandatory masks nationwide.
“Every single American should be wearing a mask when they’re outside for the next three months, at a minimum. Every governor should mandate mandatory mask-wearing,” Biden told reporters earlier this month. “Let’s institute a mask mandate nationwide starting immediately, and we will save lives.”