Model: Mass. to reach almost 10,000 coronavirus deaths within weeks

The state continues to edge toward the grim milestone of 10,000 deaths due to the coronavirus.

A University of Massachusetts model suggests the state’s tally could stand at 9,991 coronavirus deaths by Nov. 7, though researchers noted the numbers could range between 9,859 and 10,187.

Last week, the model had suggested the state would see 9,967 deaths a week earlier, by Oct. 31.

The model numbers reflect both confirmed and probable coronavirus deaths. The state had tallied 9,630 confirmed and probable deaths as of Tuesday.

The rate of deaths reported each day has declined after a terrifying climb this spring. The model projects it will continue to decline gradually in the next few weeks. But the heartbreaking numbers have not gone to zero.

The model also projects a gradual decline in confirmed and probable coronavirus cases. Governor Charlie Baker has acknowledged a recent rise in cases, but says the state is prepared for the fall and winter.

The projection comes from a lab headed by UMass Amherst associate professor Nicholas Reich that collects various models and develops a combined forecast that is intended to reflect their collective wisdom.

The lab only creates the forecast for a four-week window ahead because researchers believe forecasts aren’t reliable enough after that.

Reich’s lab posts its national- and state-level data every week at the Reich Lab COVID-19 Forecast Hub. The lab, already an Influenza Forecasting Center of Excellence, collaborates with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on coronavirus predictions. The lab feeds the data it has collected and its ensemble forecast to the agency, which posts the data on its own website.

Researchers from Google who have collaborated with Harvard on a model that looks only two weeks ahead see a darker future, predicting the state death toll will rise to 10,162 by Oct. 24. The UMass model is more optimistic, predicting around 9,786 deaths by the same date.

The UMass model also predicts that the total number of deaths in the United States from coronavirus will reach around 234,000 by Nov. 7.

Looking further into the future, the closely followed model from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation sees much more pain and suffering. It has projected that the nation could tally more than 394,000 coronavirus deaths by Feb. 1.

Martin finucane can be reached at [email protected]

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