An internal document by the federal government reportedly predicts the novel coronavirus death toll in the U.S. could hit 182,000 by the end of August.
The number — found in an internal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report obtained by Yahoo News — marks a huge surge from an estimate by the University of Washington at the end of last month, which didn’t place the U.S. at more than 180,000 deaths until October.
The new estimate follows the U.S. surpassing 150,000 deaths from COVID-19 this week, and was prepared by the CDC for senior government officials in a brief distributed on Thursday. It has not been released publicly.
It would contradict optimistic messages from the Trump administration. President Trump has acknowledged the worsening outbreaks of the virus across the U.S. in recent days and made headlines last week for publicly wearing a face mask. But he also suggested as recently as July 21 that the virus will eventually “disappear.”
The COVID-19 disease is on track to be the third-leading cause of death in the United States this year, behind only heart disease and cancer, and it has already killed more Americans than the number of Union soldiers who died in the Civil War.
The virus has continued to see outbreaks across the U.S. following businesses reopening, prompting renewed restaurant closures in some states, new mask mandates and other measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. The number of new cases confirmed on a daily basis has topped 50,000 on all but two days of the month, and more than 60,000 new cases have been confirmed on seven of the last 10 days.
A national mask mandate has been the subject of debate in response to the daily record-breaking case counts in states, and Congress is negotiating on another major coronavirus relief bill which aims to send Americans more stimulus checks.