Nearly 300,000 COVID-19 deaths projected in U.S. by Dec. 1, experts say

Ron Musselman
York Dispatch

The death toll from the coronavirus pandemic in the United States could reach nearly 300,000 by Dec. 1, according to University of Washington health experts.

The school’s widely cited Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation is now projecting 295,011 deaths by Dec. 1, but said approximately 70,000 lives could be saved if people consistently wear masks, according to a news release.

More than 160,000 have died in the U.S. from the virus as of Saturday morning, the Wall Street Journal reported.

More:York County has 1 new death linked to COVID-19, 41 new cases

More:How long will Americans be fighting the coronavirus?

This transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. (NIAID/TNS)

“We’re seeing a roller coaster in the United States,” IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray said. “It appears that people are wearing masks and socially distancing more frequently as infections increase, then after a while as infections drop, people let their guard down and stop taking these measures ... and the potentially deadly cycle starts over again.” 

Since July 15, several states have added mask mandates, the news release stated. Statistical analysis compiled by IHME suggests that mandates with no penalties increase mask wearing by 8 percentage points. 

However, mandates with penalties increase mask wearing by 15 percentage points.  

“Such efforts to act more cautiously and responsibly will be an important aspect of COVID-19 forecasting and the up-and-down patterns in individual states throughout the coming months and into next year,” Murray said. 

York County had its 93rd death linked to COVID-19 as of noon Friday and Pennsylvania’s death toll now stands at 7,297 since the outbreak began, the state Health Department reported. 

— Ron Musselman can be reached at or via Twitter at @ronmusselman8.