IHME models show second wave of COVID-19 beginning September 15 in US

Published June 11, 2020

A total of 169,890 deaths are forecasted by October 1


SEATTLE—The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) has extended its US COVID-19 forecasts through October 1. The forecast shows 169,890 deaths in the US by October 1, with a possible range between 133,201 and 290,222. Deaths nationwide are predicted to remain fairly level through August and begin to rise again in the fourth week of August with a more pronounced increase during September, although some states will see the increase earlier due to increased mobility and relaxation of social distancing mandates.

“We’re now able to look ahead and see where states need to begin planning for a second wave of COVID-19,” said IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray. “We hope to see our model proven wrong by the swift actions governments and individuals take to reduce transmission.”

The model includes data through June 6, 2020. Large gatherings in some states due to lifting of social distancing restrictions, gatherings on national holidays, and public protests are reflected in the general trend toward increased mobility.

The institute will now continue to forecast four months into the future, updating the timeframe for the forecast at the beginning of each month.

IHME has also updated the model used for forecasting COVID-19 deaths and infections. The model now includes mobility data, testing, pneumonia seasonality (expected to be similar to COVID-19 seasonality), mask use, population density, air pollution, low altitude, annual pneumonia death rate, smoking, and self-reported contacts as covariates. The model no longer relies on any data from Wuhan, China. Based on IHME’s analysis, mask use results in up to 50% reduction in transmission of COVID-19.

States with the highest numbers of deaths by October 1 include:

  • New York: 32,310 (range between 31,754 and 33,241)
  • New Jersey: 13,177 (12,881–13,654)
  • California: 8,821 (7,151–12,254)
  • Michigan: 8,771 (7,098–14,743)

The states with the earliest uptick in deaths, according to current modeling, are Florida, Arizona, Georgia, and Colorado.

“If the US is unable to check the growth in September, we could be facing worsening trends in October, November, and the following months if the pandemic, as we expect, follows pneumonia seasonality,” Dr. Murray said.

Increasing travel in some states, as well as the overlap with the flu season, are likely to impact hospital demand for services in fall and winter.

The new death projections and other information, such as hospital resources usage, are available at https://covid19.healthdata.org/united-states-of-america.

Contact: [email protected]

IHME is grateful to the Microsoft AI for Health program for supporting our hosting of COVID-19 data visualizations in the Azure cloud.

About the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) is an independent global health research organization at the University of Washington School of Medicine that provides rigorous and comparable measurement of the world’s most important health problems and evaluates the strategies used to address them. IHME is committed to transparency and makes this information widely available so that policymakers have the evidence they need to make informed decisions on allocating resources to improve population health.