U.S. researchers predict 135,000 coronavirus deaths by August, citing eased restrictions

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A newly revised coronavirus mortality model predicts nearly 135,000 Americans will die from COVID-19 by early August, almost double previous projections, as social-distancing measures for quelling the pandemic are increasingly relaxed, researchers said on Monday.

The ominous new forecast from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) reflect “rising mobility in most U.S. states” with an easing of business closures and stay-at-home orders expected in 31 states by May 11, the institute said.

“We expect that the epidemic in many states will now extend through the summer,” the IHME director, Dr. Christopher Murray, said in a statement.

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The projections reinforced warnings from public health experts that a rising clamor to lift restrictions on commerce and social activities — in hopes of healing a ravaged economy — could exact a staggering cost in terms of human lives.

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The novel coronavirus is already known to have infected almost 1.2 million people in the United States, including 68,762 who have died from COVID-19, the respiratory illness it causes, according to Reuters’ own tally.

The institute’s predictive coronavirus model, periodically revised to account for changing circumstances and scientific insights surrounding the pandemic,

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