Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. Sign up here

Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) joined "The Story" Tuesday to break down the latest data from the IHME, which projected more than than 74,000 coronavirus-related deaths in the United States by Aug. 4, an increase of nearly 6,000 deaths from its latest report.

"We are seeing several things driving up the forecasts," Murray explained. "First, in a number of states but not yet all, states have been revising their death numbers to capture people that were presumptive COVID deaths. They didn't, perhaps, get tested before they died.

"Deaths in nursing homes are an example," Murray added. "That increased number of deaths is making us realize that more people have already died than any of us thought before those changes in the death data. "

Murray told host Martha MacCallum that certain areas of the U.S. are experiencing "long protracted flat peaks" in the number of coronavirus infections. By contrast, the number of cases in hard-hit countries like Italy and Spain "dropped down really quickly" after reaching their respective peaks.


"We are seeing in New York [and] a number of other states, quite protracted periods, and every day that you're at the peak, a lot of people are dying, as well as a lot of people suffering. So that's going into those revisions."

Murray warned that as more states begin easing social distancing guidelines and look toward a phased reopening of their economies, the projected number of coronavirus-related deaths will likely rise.


"We have not yet taken into account that some of the social distancing mandates are coming off and when we do take that into account, we expect the numbers to go up even further," he said.

"That revision takes a lot of work in the background and will be coming probably by the weekend."