US deaths from the novel coronavirus surged past 70,000 on Tuesday, according to a Reuters tally, as a key forecasting model nearly doubled its previous estimate for fatalities.
Nearly 1.2 million people in the US have tested positive for COVID-19 - more than the combined total of the next largest outbreaks in Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom, France and Germany.
A University of Washington research model often cited by White House officials on Monday nearly doubled its projected US death toll to over 134,000 by Aug. 4.
The revision reflected “rising mobility in most US states” with an easing of business closures and stay-at-home orders expected in 31 states by May 11, the institute said.
The revised projection coincided with disclosure of an internal Trump administration forecast predicting a surge in fatalities to 3,000 a day by the end of May, up from about 2,000 now in the Reuters tally.
The US coronavirus outbreak is deadlier than any flu season since 1967 when about 100,000 Americans died, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID-19 deaths in the US also have eclipsed in a few months the 58,220 Americans killed during 16 years of US military involvement during the Vietnam War.
The current trajectory of COVID-19 falls far short of the 1918 Spanish flu, which killed 675,000 Americans.
There is as yet no treatment or vaccine for coronavirus while flu vaccines are widely available along with treatments.
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