Prominent coronavirus modeler Dr. Christopher Murray says US President Donald Trump was wrong when he said Murray’s latest forecast about the number of virus deaths did not account for mitigation measures.

The model, often cited by the White House, now forecasts more than 134,000 people will die from Covid-19 by August — double its earlier projection.

Trump, when asked by CNN about the new model from Murray’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), claimed that the model “assumes no mitigation.”

Murray confirmed that’s incorrect.

“In our model we see deaths going up much higher than we originally thought,” Murray said Tuesday on CNN Tonight with Don Lemon.
“That’s really being driven by people getting out and about, more mobility, and, most importantly, states relaxing social distancing mandates. That’s pushing up contact rates, pushing up transmission.”

Murray, chair of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington, said there are some positive factors that have also influenced the model. An increase in testing and contact tracing will help reduce the number of deaths, he predicts. Summer temperatures should also “put a little bit of a brake on transmission,” Murray said.

“So all those are factored into our forecast of 134,000 deaths,” Murray said.

Murray said use of masks, avoiding large gatherings and working from home will help reduce the spread of the virus.

“The real challenge will be the temptation that states have to relax more mandates. That’s going to push up potentially more transmission and some states may get tipped over the edge and go back to sort of exponential growth of, you know, a New York style situation,” Murray said.