“Based on our ... model, the total number of infections is projected to reach 287 million without social distancing and 188 million with social distancing,” the researchers wrote. “When combined with the differential mortality rates when the health system capacity threshold is exceeded versus when not, the difference between the infection curves translates into about 1.24 million lives saved.”

Thunstrom admitted that the $10 million figure used to represent a human life is "controversial" because it doesn't account for age, but she noted that several federal agencies use that dollar amount for various analytics.

She also said the model used in the analysis would change if more information, such as the availability of a working vaccine, becomes available. Thunstrom told the newspaper she hopes everyone adheres to social distancing guidelines.

“Stay home, stay home,” she said. “You see the cost: You might lose your job, you might lose your income. You might see local businesses you love really suffering. It’s really easy to imagine: ‘This makes no sense.’ Even if the costs are large, it’s a sensible policy by the best type of analysis that we can make, so we should all do this and try to do it as well as we can so we can get out of this situation as fast as possible."