Models are hard under the best conditions. Under conditions where you’re modeling an unknown virus and an unprecedented national response, they’re destined to miss badly.
But having to nearly double your death estimate feels like a bad miss even grading on that very steep curve. They were at 72,000 projected deaths by August 4 as of this morning, remember, even thought the confirmed death toll in the U.S. is already north of 60,000.
There’s a long explanation of their updated methodology here. “We, collectively, are now entering a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic,” they write as states begin easing restrictions. They’ll begin incorporating four variables into their model to try to fine-tune future projections — temperature, population density, testing per capita, and mobility, i.e. people getting out more. The new forecast: 112,000 Americans dead by June 1, with a realistic best-case scenario of 91,000 and a worst-case scenario of 155,000.