San Diego

Could a COVID-19 Surge Be Just Around the Corner?

Researchers from the University of Washington predict 618,000 Americans will die from COVID-19 by August 1. That's another 44,000 deaths in the next four months

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As San Diego begins to slowly return to normal, researchers say now is not the time to let down your guard.

Dr. Ali Mokdad, and other researchers with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, have been forecasting the course of the pandemic with accuracy.

These researchers are warning that the pandemic is far from over. Mokdad says that as people return to work and school – there are more chances to come in contact with the virus.

"We are predicting 618,000 deaths on August 1 in the United States and 68,200 deaths in California," Mokdad said.

As of Thursday, At least 573,494 people have died from the coronavirus, according to an NBC News tally. That means Mokdad and his team predicts another 44,000 deaths in the next four-plus months.

The IHME has been providing these predictions to various governments across the world since the start of the pandemic.

"We give different scenarios to help policymakers decide how they can handle COVID-19," explains Mokdad.

"We need to be very careful and slow down a little bit until we are out of danger, which is in the coming 2 to 3 weeks," Mokdad said.

The researchers are able to track people's movements using data from a variety of sources including cell phones, tablets, laptops and even from Facebook.

With more people going out and about, Mokdad says it’s imperative for people to remember their masks.

"We're seeing a slow decline in mask-wearing in California," Mokdad said. "It used to be 81 [percent], now at 79%."

Mokdad says if we move too fast, things could get worse in his worst-case scenario saying California could see up to 82,000 deaths by August 1.

But there is good news – as more people get a shot in the arm, especially in San Diego County, Mokdad says we could be very close to a normal summer.

"We're expecting by August 1, about 24.8 million Californians will be fully vaccinated," Mokdad said.

"What's going very well for California, you have about 20% of the population infected," Mokdad explained. "So more people have been infected and hence they have immunity against the virus."

The researchers believe California is on track, along with the rest of the country. Mokdad says after August 1 he expects the number of COVID cases to decline through the end of summer.

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