US COVID-19 deaths could hit 500,000 by February, researchers say

Some 84,218 people were diagnosed with COVID-19 across the United States on Friday, according to a Reuters tally, breaking the single-day record of 77,299 that was set on July 16. Only India has reported more cases in a single day: 97,894, on September 17.

“We are heading into a very substantial fall/winter surge,” said IHME director Chris Murray, who co-led the research.

The number of possible deaths could drop by 130,000 if 95 percent of Americans covered their faces, the IHME said, echoing a recommendation by Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The country’s Health Secretary Alex Azar has attributed the increase in cases nationwide to individual behaviour, saying household gatherings have become a “major vector of disease spread.”

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