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Model predicts higher death toll in US amid states reopening

The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) model this week increased its projected U.S. coronavirus death toll as a number of states move to reopen businesses.

The projected number of deaths rose from 67,641 a week ago to 74,073, IHME said in a statement on Monday. The new figure is still lower than a projection last month of 90,000 deaths in the U.S. related to coronavirus.

The new IHME estimate now ranges from 56,563 to 130,666 deaths in the U.S.

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The institute said that the increase is due to “many states experiencing flatter and thus longer epidemic peaks.” It also said that coronavirus deaths across the country are not falling “very quickly” after their estimated peak.

IHME Director Christopher Murray told CNN last week that his team was surprised when Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) announced he would ease some coronavirus restrictions.

"If people start to go back to normal social interaction or even progressively go back, the risk of transmission will go up ... and then you go back to the sort of exponential rise that was happening before we put in social distancing," Murray said. "The risk is very great for resurgence from these early openings."

Georgia allowed some businesses — including gyms and fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, cosmetologists and more — to open Friday and continuing into Monday.

There have already been more than 50,000 deaths in the U.S. related to coronavirus as of Tuesday morning, according to estimates from The New York Times. Over 987,000 total cases have been reported in the U.S.