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Brazilian investors buy Miami real estate. Haitian earthquake survivors attend South Florida schools. It's clear what happens in Latin America and the Caribbean has a profound effect on South Florida.WLRN’s coverage of the region is headed by Americas editor Tim Padgett, a 23-year veteran of TIME and Newsweek magazines.He joins a team of reporters and editors at the Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald and NPR to cover a region whose cultural wealth, environmental complexity, vast agricultural output and massive oil reserves offer no shortage of important and fascinating stories to tell.

Latin America COVID-19 Forecast Warns Of 'Grim Tipping Point,' 'Tragic Trajectory'

Silvia Izquierdo
A Brazilian Red Cross worker checks the temperature of a child outside a wholesale market in Rio de Janeiro this week.

As the COVID-19 pandemic hits the developing world harder, Latin America has become its new epicenter – and a new pandemic forecast for the region is bleak.

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The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) predicts a big rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths over the next three months in Latin America and the Caribbean. It says Brazil especially – which already has the world's second-highest number of infections and fatalities behind the U.S. – “is at a grim tipping point.”

The IHME estimates that by October, Brazil's death toll will more than triple to more than 166,000. And that’s only if the country improves its lax social distancing efforts. If it doesn’t, Brazil could see more than twice that number of deaths.

Mexico is another big concern: the IHME says the pandemic is on a “tragic trajectory” there.

Across Latin America, coronavirus deaths surpassed 100,000 this week – and the University of Washington researchers fear that could almost quadruple by October.

The number of coronavirus cases in the region has tripled in just the past month to 2 million.

Tim Padgett is the Americas editor for Miami NPR affiliate WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida.