COVID-19 Deaths to Cross 317,000 in U.S. By Dec. 1 - IHME​

A worker wearing a protective face mask closes a gate, as a NYC Medical Examiner's van arrives at a temporary morgue set up with refrigerated trucks next to Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York city, New York, U.S., May 5, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar

(Reuters) - The University of Washington on Thursday expanded the forecast of its widely cited model, projecting 317,697 deaths in the United States by Dec. 1 due to the COVID-19 pandemic as cases climb in many states. 

The new forecast, by the university's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) reflects an increase of about 8,000 deaths from its previous forecast.

However, the report also suggests that if 95% of Americans wore a mask, the death toll could be reduced by about 67,000 lives.

At least 179,725 Americans have died from the respiratory disease, while reported U.S. infections have breached 5.8 million cases, according to a tally by Reuters.

The IHME's projections have been cited in the past by the White House and are watched closely by public health officials.