New UW projections predict more deaths as states reopen

SEATTLE — On this warm Mother’s Day, Washington state’s phased reopening is in full swing at local car washes.

But new projections from the University of Washington show the nation could pay a price if the state reopens too fast.

More than 80,000 Americans have died from the COVID-19 virus, and the UW’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation predicts 57,000 more could die by August.

More states are loosening restrictions meant to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

There were mixed reactions to the new projections as people ventured out to businesses that are reopening.

No one at the Brown Bear Car Wash wants to see more people die from the virus. But there was no mistaking their glee that the state was beginning to return to life.

Getting a car wash was how some people chose to celebrate this picture-perfect Mother’s Day, and they sid they want more things to open up.

“Yeah, I think so, a little bit, yeah,” said Joanna Brutel of Seattle. “I support the government and I really appreciate what they’re doing. But I think they can start to, yeah, have more places open, a little bit.”

However, researchers at the University of Washington say this increased mobility could translate into thousands of more deaths across the nation by midsummer.

“We’re just seeing more cases and deaths than expected in certain places,” Dr. Christopher Murray, IMHE director, told CBS’s Face the Nation. “So we may actually see quite a lot of states with increasing cases over the next two weeks.”

The institute predicts more than 50,000 more COVID-19 deaths by early August.

The chorus of opposition to staying home is growing louder across the country. More than a thousand people descended on Olympia Saturday demanding that the state reopen sooner.

Despite showing a graph with a trend line going up across the state, Gov. Jay Inslee is continuing his phased approach.

“I’m not too worried about it,” said Llanteo Okamura of Seattle’s Leschi neighborhood. “At some point we’re going to have to get back to business anyway. So now’s as good as any time.”

“I think people need to practice common sense,” said Chris Longston of Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood. “I mean, I have my car. I drove here. I’m going to go through the car wash. And then I’m going to go home. So I don’t feel I am really at risk.”

The governor has said that each phase in his four-phase plan will last three weeks. They will gather data to decide whether to extend each phase.

He will almost certainly use the UW’s metrics and others to make his decisions.