As more U.S. states move to lift coronavirus restrictions, a closely watched model for gauging the disease’s spread continues to raise its estimate for the number of U.S. deaths.
For the second time in under a week, the University of Washington’s Institute for Heath Metrics and Evaluation revised its forecast, which now stands at more than 137,000 deaths by August - roughly 3,000 more than its prior estimate on May 4.
On Sunday, IHME Director Christopher Murray told CBS News the reason was simple: more people moving around means more infections.
"What's driving the change is, simply put, the rise in mobility and that's the key driver. We're seeing in some states, you know, a 20 percentage point increase in just 10 days in mobility. And that will translate into more human contact, more transmission. And then the other thing that we're- we're seeing in some states is, which is why we like to- to revise the forecast on a very regular basis, is that we're just seeing more cases and deaths than expected in certain places. But it's mostly mobility that's driving up the numbers."
Murray said some better-than-expected numbers showing declines in certain areas were more than offset by rising numbers in other places.
"Some 'good-ish' news coming out of New York and New Jersey and Michigan, where the death cases and death numbers are- are coming down faster than expected. Some other states where cases and deaths are going up more than we expected, Illinois and then Arizona, Florida, California as examples of that... And then, of course, we're seeing just explosive increases in mobility in a number of states that we expect will translate into more cases and deaths, you know, in 10 days from now."
Murray named five states: Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Georgia, where mobility has increased since the easing of lockdown measures, will likely soon see a rise in new infections.