The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday predicted that the number of newly reported coronavirus-related deaths will likely increase over the next month, with the potential for a total death count of up to 362,000 by Jan. 2.
The CDC made the prediction in its weekly “ensemble forecast,” which combines national and stave-level forecasts into an aggregate prediction on the state of COVID-19 over the next four weeks.
In this week’s forecast, the CDC predicted that in the week ending Jan. 2, the U.S. could see anywhere from 12,600 to 23,400 new deaths due to the virus.
This means that by this date, the country could reach a total of anywhere from 332,000 to 362,000 COVID-19 deaths.
The CDC’s prediction is based on forecasts of deaths over the next four weeks from 40 modeling groups. According to the CDC, 37 of the 40 groups provided forecasts for both new and total deaths, with two groups forecasting total deaths only and one forecasting new deaths only.
As of Wednesday, the CDC has recorded more than 285,000 total coronavirus fatalities, with more than 15 million reported infections since the CDC began recording data on the virus in January.
On Wednesday, the U.S. also hit a new record for the number of new deaths in a single day, with 3,054 fatalities from the coronavirus, according to The COVID Tracking Project, beating the previous record from the spring, which was 2,769 deaths on May 7.
The CDC’s prediction comes as experts anticipate a spike in infections over the holidays and winter months, with the colder weather forcing people indoors, where the virus is able to spread more easily.
The New York Times reported this week that the U.S. has recorded its highest seven-day average of COVID-19 deaths, at 2,249.
As of Wednesday, The COVID Tracking Project recorded more than 106,000 people in the hospital with the coronavirus, also a record. The country is averaging a staggering total of more than 200,000 new cases every day.
While companies developing coronavirus vaccines appear to be making increasing gains toward receiving emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, experts predict that they will likely not be widely available to the public until the spring or summer.
The anticipated spikes come in the aftermath of the Thanksgiving holiday, during which many Americans disobeyed a CDC guidance urging against travel, with travel rates on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving reaching their highest levels since March.
The CDC has also warned against traveling for Christmas amid fears that gatherings during the holiday could lead to more cases.