WASHINGTON, Oct. 30 (Xinhua) -- The COVID-19 death toll in the United States is expected to reach almost 400,000 by Feb. 1, according to an updated key COVID-19 model.
According to the new forecast from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, it is most likely that by mid-January, 2,250 Americans will be dying every day from COVID-19, which is about three times of the current rate at around 800 deaths per day.
The death toll would reach 399,163 by Feb. 1, according to the projection.
If mandates ease, the death toll would increase to over 513,000 by Feb. 1. If masks are universally adopted, which would mean about 95 percent of people consistently wearing masks, the IHME predicts about 337,600 deaths.
The IHME model also projects over 129,066 hospital beds are needed by Feb. 1 to take care of the infected.
"The fall/winter surge has more clearly begun in the U.S. with an accelerating increase in daily cases," said the IHME in a statement.
The United States is three to four weeks behind the surge in Europe, according to the institute, which expects the weekly increases in cases and deaths to accelerate in the next two to three weeks.
"Hospital systems, particularly ICUs, are expected to be under extreme stress in December and January in 18 states. Scaling up mask wearing can delay the need for further social distancing mandates and save 62,000 lives by February 1," said the IHME.
Currently the daily death rate is over 4 per million in states including Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Indiana, according to the institute.
"This is the hardest point in this pandemic right now - the next two months," Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said during an interview with CNBC on Thursday. "We can't give up our guard right now."
The United States has recorded more than 8.98 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and over 229,000 deaths as of Friday afternoon, according to the real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.