US could see large uptick of COVID-19 deaths in July, new models show

Experts think 4th of July holiday could be epicenter of explosion in coronavirus cases

Visitors set up inside circles designed to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus by encouraging social distancing, at Dolores Park in San Francisco, Sunday, June 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu) (Jeff Chiu, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Health experts across the nation have warned Americans for months that the spread of COVID-19 would need to be drastically minimized should we see any sort of relief from the pandemic, but a new study is showing that based on our current trajectory, COVID-19 deaths could spike -- soon.

A study by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation found that if the nation continues to see an elevated infection rate, the US could see an increase of COVID-19 deaths in a range between 159,497 and 213,715.

The use of face masks could save 33,000 lives as the pandemic continues, Poynter reported, nearly as many lives that are lost in traffic crashes each year.

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Florida continues to see high numbers of newly reported COVID-19 cases, with daily totals far surpassing the numbers of cases seen when the state first shut down in March. Florida reported 9,585 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, a record high for the state with more new cases than entire states reported alone.

While the number of new COVID-19 cases remains high, the number of coronavirus-related deaths has stayed relatively low in the state compared to new infections. Health experts warn, however, that death reporting lags behind new cases by a few weeks, so we may soon see the numbers of fatalities rise as well.

A few weeks back, Memorial Day drew large crowds as the phased reopening of the state began. About two weeks later, Florida began reporting large amounts of new COVID-19 cases being diagnosed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains that symptoms of COVID-19 could take anywhere from two to 14 days to show, meaning the disease could be widely spread before you feel ill.

[TIMELINE: The spread of coronavirus in Florida]

Experts worry the July 4 holiday may see a similar boom in transmission with an explosion of new cases, bringing the death toll up as well.

According to the Washington Post, Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease specialist, told Congress at a hearing Tuesday that “deaths always lag considerably behind cases.” In the weeks to come, he and others said, the death toll is likely to rise commensurately. This means Arizona, Texas and Florida, states that reopened early and now are experiencing runaway infection rates, are likely to be burying more dead in July, the Post reported.

The Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center reported that the US has the most confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the world with 2,549,069 infections and 125,803 deaths. Brazil has the second-highest number of infections with 1,344,143 cases of COVID-19.

On Monday, the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 dashboard showed there have been 10,173,722 cases of COVID-19 globally with 502,517 total deaths.

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About the Author:

Erin began her career at News 6 as an assignment editor, then became a show producer. She is now a digital storyteller as part of the Click Orlando team.