Aug. 28. 2021 -- New forecasts show that the U.S. is projected to add 100,000 more COVID-19 deaths this year, according to The Associated Press.
However, public health experts say the massive number could be cut in half if more safety protocols are implemented, such as wearing masks in public.
“Behavior is really going to determine if, when and how sustainably the current wave subsides,” Lauren Ancel Meyers, director of the University of Texas COVID-19 Modeling Consortium, told the AP.
“We cannot stop Delta in its tracks, but we can change our behavior overnight,” she said.
That includes wearing masks, limiting social gatherings, staying home when sick, and getting vaccinated, she said.
The Delta variant has sparked an increase in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. The U.S. is now reporting an average of more than 1,100 new deaths each day, hitting the levels last recorded in March, according to the data tracker from The New York Times.
An additional 98,000 Americans could die from COVID-19 by the beginning of December, according to a new forecast from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. If that occurs, the overall COVID-19 death toll in the U.S. would hit 730,000 deaths.
According to the projection, the average number of daily deaths will increase to about 1,400 by mid-September and then slowly decline — unless people change their behavior.
“We can save 50,000 lives simply by wearing masks,” Ali Mokdad, a professor of health metrics sciences who is involved with the University of Washington’s forecast model, told the AP.
“That’s how important behaviors are,” he said.
Some of the changes may already be taking place, the AP reported, in areas where schools are requiring masks and more people are getting vaccinated. The surge of new COVID-19 cases is beginning to slow down in Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi as more people begin to take their first shot.
At the same time, infections are continuing to rise in Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wyoming, the AP reported.
“If we behave, we can contain this virus,” Mokdad said. “If we don’t behave, this virus is waiting for us.”