Alliance for Pandemic Preparedness

October 23, 2020

Modeling COVID-19 Scenarios for the United States



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  • An Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) model suggests that universal mask use in the United States could save an additional 129,574 lives from September 22, 2020 through the end of February 2021, or an additional 95,814 lives assuming 85% mask adoption, when compared to the reference scenario. Three possible boundary scenarios were delineated: (1) mandate-easing, in which states continue to remove social distancing measures over time; (2) a plausible reference scenario, in which social interaction and some economic activity are temporarily halted when a threshold of 8 deaths per million population is exceeded; and (3) universal mask use, in which 95% of people wear masks in public. Projections based on current non-pharmaceutical intervention strategies by state indicate that, cumulatively, more than 500,000 lives could be lost to COVID-19 across the United States by the end of February, 2021. [EDITORIAL NOTE: A pre-print associated with this manuscript was summarized in the Lit Rep on July 15, 2020]

IHME COVID-19 Forecasting Team. (Oct 23, 2020). Modeling COVID-19 Scenarios for the United States. Nature Medicine.