RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Nearly 1,300 more North Carolinians could die of COVID-19 during the next three weeks, according to a projection published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A composite of 32 models projects the death total in North Carolina to reach 8,000 on Jan. 23 — or, nearly enough to fill 9,314-seat Cameron Indoor Stadium at Duke.
Across the nation, the ensemble forecast projects more than 80,000 more people could die during that time period.
The state Department of Health and Human Services has reported 6,748 total deaths through Thursday’s update. The agency will not update its figures again until Saturday due to the New Year’s Day holiday.
December was the deadliest month of the pandemic so far, with 1,131 people known to have died during the month.
That total will likely increase throughout January because it can take days or weeks for a death to be recorded by DHHS and updated with the exact date of death.
It comes as the state is facing a post-Thanksgiving spike in its key coronavirus metrics and is bracing for another one following the Christmas holiday.
“I think we’re all expecting to see January high numbers, unfortunately,” said Tom Denny of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute. “And it’s just unfortunate, but that’s where we’re going to be.”
A CBS17.com analysis of the date-of-death data found that the seven-day average number of deaths per day increased by more than 50 percent between Nov. 17 and Dec. 17. That average was 33 on Nov. 17 and rose to 50 a month later. Deaths after that fall in the two-week window in which DHHS says more could still be reported.
The 10 days with the most deaths have all taken place in December, with a single-day-record 59 people dying on Dec. 12. At least 40 people died every day from Dec. 5-18.
CBS 17’s Joedy McCreary has been tracking COVID-19 figures since March, compiling data from federal, state and local sources to deliver a clear snapshot of what the coronavirus situation looks like now and what it could look like in the future.