By October 1, that number could increase by more than 300,000.
The model’s creators say they assumed countries in the projection will follow social distancing guidelines. And if prevention measures weaken, deaths could be even higher.
Big populations, big problems
The eight most populous countries in Latin America and the Caribbean — Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Venezuela, Chile and Ecuador — make up more than 82% of the region’s population.
So, it’s not surprising that these countries are driving the exponential growth in both coronavirus cases and deaths.
Of the region’s 33 total countries, these eight countries make up 94% of total cases and 96% of total deaths.
Brazil is far and away the single worst offender. Its recorded cases and deaths — 1,496,858 and 61,884, respectively, as of Thursday — keep climbing. Its seven-day moving average of newly confirmed cases is as high as it’s ever been. Reporting more than 40,000 new cases in a day is no longer unusual.
In Mexico, the reopening of the economy has also taken center stage. In Mexico City, by far the hardest hit part of the country, patrons enjoyed cocktails and appetizers at restaurants this week for the first time since March 23. Hotels, salons and markets are now allowed to open as well.
This despite the fact the death toll stands at 21,189 as of Thursday evening. That death toll is roughly double what it was one month ago and is now higher than Spain’s.
Smaller countries in the region have generally fared much better in containing their outbreaks. Uruguay and Paraguay have less than 50 deaths combined. Belize has only recorded 28 total cases since the outbreak began.
But health officials are concerned about some of the other smaller countries like Costa Rica, which has seen its case total more than double in the last month. The Pan American Health Organization says new cases there may not peak until October.
The broad toll of the outbreak
The economic outlook in Latin America and the Caribbean were not great before the pandemic arrived. It’s gotten so much worse since.
Even countries that were largely spared the worst of the pandemic’s health effects won’t be able to avoid the consequences.
Many island nations in the Caribbean have limited case numbers but will see massive hits to their economies as tourism, the lifeblood for many of them, drops precipitously.
Some of those unemployed will come from the airline industry, with the region’s carriers among the worst hit in the world.
Mexican carrier Aeromexico filed for bankruptcy this week, the third airline in the region to do so since the outbreak began, joining LatAm Airlines and Avianca Airlines.
Forest fires might not seem directly connected to a deadly virus. But environmental activists have warned that illegal loggers and ranchers have taken advantage of limited official resources during the pandemic, burning large swaths of forest for financial gain.
Signs of hope
Peru and Chile have recorded the sixth and seventh most confirmed cases of the virus worldwide, with a combined total of nearly 600,000.
But after months of grim news, both countries sounded a more hopeful tone this week.
In Chile, Wednesday marked the lowest single-day rise in new cases since May 19. The country’s seven-day average has also dropped significantly since its peak on June 21.
“On a national level, the data are good,” said Chile’s Health Minister Enrique Paris. “The country still has a fever, but the fever is much lower,” he continued, referring to the improving number of infections.
On Thursday, Peru marked its sixth consecutive day when the number of people discharged from hospitals was higher than the number of new cases.
Peru’s Health Ministry said in a statement that Thursday was “…one of its best dates in the fight against the pandemic.”