Image of senior woman with a mask looking wistfully out a door

Total coronavirus infections are being projected to skyrocket and peak in mid-October with an estimated 390,000 cases nationwide, according to a new national model projection. 

The latest projections were released late last week by the COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub, which is run by researchers working in consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NPR first reported. The model offers four scenarios based on how many people get vaccinated and how quickly the disease, particularly the Delta variant, spreads nationwide.

The United States is currently averaging about 62,000 new cases per day over the last week, according to the CDC.

Ruth Katz, LeadingAge’s senior vice president of public policy and advocacy, during a member call on Wednesday said the seven-day case average had quadrupled since June 26, “just as we thought we were moving out of the pandemic.”

“Here we are spinning again,” Katz says. “The next few weeks are going to call on all of us, especially aging services providers, to hold steady with all these skills we’ve sharpened together.”

Jill Schumann, also of LeadingAge, noted that the most probable scenario in the projections supplied to CDC, with an assumption that 70% of Americans are vaccinated and that the delta variant is 60% more transmissible, predicted a threshold of about 60,000 daily cases.

“That’s kind of close to where we are now,” Schumann said, but she also pointed out that other scenarios show trends spiking up to 240,000 new infections daily and 4,000 deaths daily in October. That would be “almost as bad as last winter,” Schumann noted.

“There are lots of factors that could impact the course of the pandemic,” she added. “One of those is how quickly unvaccinated people get the vaccine. … Clearly, we’re not out of the woods yet, so let’s keep encouraging vaccination.”

As of mid-July, only 56% of Americans 12 and older are fully vaccinated, and rates among nursing home workers are below that in many states.

Preliminary data reported by CDC Tuesday from its National Healthcare Safety Network indicate residents of SNFs in which vaccination coverage of staff is 75% or lower experience higher crude rates of preventable COVID infection.

LeadingAge had a call with CDC Tuesday, during which officials said much of the current spread was being driven by low vaccination rates, “especially among healthcare providers.” Katz said CDC officials also noted that vaccinated and unvaccinated people may be “equally likely” to transmit the delta variant, even if those individuals are not sick.

While officials have said there remains good evidence that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are still effective in reducing serious cases of COVID even in those who acquire the delta strain, nursing homes could expect to see some changes in daily operations if the surge continues.