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New models show COVID cases could drop tremendously through March

September 22, 2021, 3:55 PM UTC

While we’re hardly out of the woods, a ray of light might be shining through about where the pandemic is headed.

The COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub, run by researchers who advise the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says it appears the virus and its Delta variant have peaked and are starting to wane. And the group doesn’t expect another notable surge this winter.

By March, it says infections could drop to the neighborhood of 9,000 per day in the U.S. The current seven-day average stands at 133,486 infections per day. Deaths from the virus would drop from the current average of 1,500 per day to less than 100 per day in that time.

If that tracking proves accurate, it would bring infections to a rate not seen since late March 2020, at the start of the pandemic. Researchers who built the model warn against too much optimism, though, pointing to unexpected factors like the rise of the Delta variant this summer, which threw previous models out of the window.

Four scenarios were examined by modelers, with the most likely being children not get vaccinated and the absence of another super-spreader variant like Delta.

Not all of the scenarios are ideal, of course. A less likely one shows cases continuing to rise to as many as 232,000 per day before falling off. And a moderate surge this winter is still possible, they caution.

Regional spikes are also a reason not to become overly relaxed, say researchers. Some areas, like Pennsylvania, Idaho, and Utah, are at risk of a resurgence. And should the Mu variant or some other new offshoot of COVID-19 prove as virulent as Delta has, then all bets are off once again. 

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