Georgia Tech Simulator Predicts 2.3 Million Deaths In US By August If Social Distancing Eased

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The coronavirus has been mitigated by social distancing measures, but a second wave of the virus is expected when those measures are lifted. Now a simulator offers guidance on when the second wave of the coronavirus might hit based on when social distancing measures are lifted.

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Easing social distancing to result in second wave of coronavirus

Georgia Tech collaborated with Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University in developing the COVID-19 simulator. Georgia is one of the first states to lift COVID-19 restrictions, so experts across the country are watching carefully to see what impact lifting those restrictions will have on the infection and death totals.

According to 11 Alive, Georgia Tech's simulator suggests the second wave of coronavirus cases could spike about two or three months after the social distancing restrictions are lifted. If the restrictions were lifted four weeks from now, the simulator suggests Georgia could see over 23,000 deaths by August.

However, if they continue for 12 more weeks, it projects only 1,940 deaths from COVID-19. If the second wave of the coronavirus brings a significant increase in the number of cases, it could mean that social distancing measures will be put back in place.

If minimal restrictions were imposed, the US nationwide would see 2,280,000 deaths by August according to the simulator.

CNN reports that another model used by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests Georgia could see its number of daily deaths from COVID-19 almost double by early August. The model assumes social distancing measures are relaxed starting tomorrow.

How bad will the second wave be?

Simulations are starting to suggest the timing and severity of the second coronavirus wave when social distancing measures are relaxed, but both issues remain up for debate. According to CNN, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease doctor in the U.S., said the severity of the second wave of the coronavirus will depend on  the countermeasures that are introduced as social distancing restrictions are lifted.

He warned that if states lift restrictions too early, the U.S. could see a sizable second wave that could "get us right back in the same boat that we were a few weeks ago." In that scenario, he said the U.S. could also see a lot more deaths than what current models predict. He said more tests, contact tracing and isolating those who are infected will play an important role in lessening the severity of the second wave.

Data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reveals that the U.S. has only tested 16.4 people for every 1,000 people. That puts the U.S. behind other countries. Spain and Italy have the second and third most cases of COVID-19. They have tested 22.3 and 29.7 people for every 1,000 people.

Fauci also said the federal government must help states increase the number of COVID-19 tests they conduct. He wants to see everyone in need of a test be able to get one by the end of this month or early next month.