The United States passed the bleak milestone of 100,000 lives lost due to the coronavirus this week. And while the spread of the disease has slowed for now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is projecting thousands more deaths in the coming weeks — both across the country and in hard-hit Massachusetts.
In a new weekly ensemble forecast released Thursday, the CDC projected that the deaths due to COVID-19 in Massachusetts — which currently stand at 6,640, the third most in the country behind only New York and New Jersey — will increase to 7,930 by June 20, the first day of summer.
The state forecast is based on 13 different models, which — to varying degrees — take into account local social distancing measures as Massachusetts gradually lifts restrictions on businesses and other activities.
And in addition to its pinpoint projection, the CDC’s ensemble forecast also includes a wider range, projecting with 95 percent confidence that the number of deaths in Massachusetts will increase to between 7,145 and 9,026 by the end of spring.
Those figures represent a leveling off in deaths, which increased by upwards of nearly 200 each day during the pandemic’s peak in April (the state’s three-day average has dropped by 65 percent since the beginning of May).
The CDC’s forecast this week is also better than its previous projections for Massachusetts. Last week, the federal agency had projected that deaths in the state would increase to 8,106 by June 13; this week, it lowered that projection by more than 450 people to 7,653.
The latest projection mirrors the results of similar attempts to predict the pandemic’s future impact. A UMass ensemble forecast that is incorporated into the CDC’s model also projects deaths in Massachusetts to increase at a slower pace, reaching 7,541 by June 20, according to this week’s data. A separate simulator developed by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital projects between 7,230 and 7,240 deaths by June 20, assuming Massachusetts remains “partially open” over the next few months.
Nationwide, the CDC’s forecast this week projects the rate of increase in deaths to continue to decline.
“Nevertheless, total COVID-19 deaths are likely to exceed 115,000 by June 20,” the agency wrote.