The epidemiologist Dr. Ali Mokdad advises the people of the United States to "be very careful" and "change our behavior" as the nation approaches winter, the worst time of year for virus transmission.
Mokdad's research estimates that more than 500,000 people could die from Covid-19 in America by the end of February, more than double the current number if states continue to relax coronavirus restrictions.
However, research estimates that nearly 130,000 lives could be saved if 95% of the population wore masks. Mokdad's study was published in the journal Nature Medicine.
"We want to give public health and people the opportunity to help each other by wearing a mask so as not to overwhelm our hospitals and intensive care units," Mokdad told The News with Shepard Smith on Friday. Mokdad teaches at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.
The US reported a record number of more than 83,700 new Covid-19 cases per day on Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University. The previous all-time high of around 77,300 new infections occurred on July 16. The United States has reported more than 8.5 million coronavirus cases and over 224,000 deaths.
"If you look at the relationship of variables like masks, mobility and tests, and know what we've seen in the southern hemisphere that winter cases increased despite all the measures they took, Covid-19 is seasonal," Mokdad said. "Unfortunately, we will see an increase in cases and then deaths in December and January."
However, Mokdad said lifestyle changes can mitigate the spread.