The death toll from COVID-19 in the U.S. could potentially hit nearly 300,000 by the beginning of December, researchers say.

That troubling (though certainly not shocking) figure is included in a new COVID-19 forecasts report shared by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IMHE) at the University of Washington's School of Medicine on Thursday. In the same report, researchers again make a point to remind the maskless bastards among us to gravely reconsider their penchant for idiocy.

"The public's behavior had a direct correlation to the transmission of the virus and, in turn, the numbers of deaths," IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray, who likened the U.S. pandemic experience to a "rollercoaster" due to inconsistent mask policies, said in a press release. "Such efforts to act more cautiously and responsibly will be an important aspect of COVID-19 forecasting and the up-and-down patterns in individual states throughout the coming months and into next year."

The new U.S. forecast now projects an estimated 295,011 deaths by December, though a stricter adherence to mask policies nationwide could save as many as 66,000 people and bring the death toll down by as much as 49 percent. States that are now seeing leaps in the total number of cases—as well as virus-related hospitalizations and deaths—include Mississippi, Ohio, Oregon, Idaho, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Virginia. 

Also tucked into the latest forecast report from the IMHE is a rundown of which states will need to relaunch mandates (i.e. stay-at-home orders and the closure of nonessential business), as well as when those measures should be implemented.

For the full breakdown, click here.

A major source of concern at the moment, particularly in states like Georgia and others with a seemingly higher presence of mask-averse citizens, is the arguably reckless manner in which schools have kicked off a new academic year. 

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