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Publication date: 
July 14, 2020


The United States (US) has not been spared in the ongoing pandemic of novel coronavirus disease. COVID-19, caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), continues to cause death and disease in all 50 states, as well as significant economic damage wrought by the non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPI) adopted in attempts to control transmission. We use a deterministic, Susceptible, Exposed, Infectious, Recovered (SEIR) compartmental framework to model possible trajectories of SARS-CoV-2 infections and the impact of NPI at the state level. Model performance was tested against reported deaths from 01 February to 04 July 2020. Using this SEIR model and projections of critical driving covariates (pneumonia seasonality, mobility, testing rates, and mask use per capita), we assessed some possible futures of the COVID-19 pandemic from 05 July through 31 December 2020. We explored future scenarios that included feasible assumptions about NPIs including social distancing mandates (SDMs) and levels of mask use. The range of infection, death, and hospital demand outcomes revealed by these scenarios show that action taken during the summer of 2020 will have profound public health impacts through to the year end. Encouragingly, we find that an emphasis on universal mask use may be sufficient to ameliorate the worst effects of epidemic resurgences in many states. Masks may save as many as 102,795 (55,898-183,374) lives, when compared to a plausible reference scenario in December. In addition, widespread mask use may markedly reduce the need for more socially and economically deleterious SDMs.


IHME COVID-19 Forecasting Team, Hay SI. COVID-19 scenarios for the United States. MedRxiv. 12 July 2020. doi:10.1101/2020.07.12.20151191.