US coronavirus cases are rising sharply in 29 states.
A growing body of evidence suggests a mask-wearing requirement could stymie the virus’ spread significantly.
The University of Washington’s infectious-disease model projects that by October 1, more than 179,000 people in the US could die from COVID-19 — 57,000 more than have died already.
But if 95% of the population were to wear face masks in public, the projected number of deaths would fall to 146,000.
Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
With 29 states reporting a rise in new coronavirus cases — and some breaking daily records — it’s clear that the US’s coronavirus-prevention strategy isn’t robust enough.
One public-health measure could significantly prevent the spread of the virus if deployed on a national scale: face masks.
A growing body of research shows that contrary to information put forward early in the pandemic, masks do prevent coronavirus transmission. On Wednesday, the widely cited coronavirus model from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s (IHME) updated its projections to assess the benefits of mask-wearing.
The IHME publishes forecasts of the country’s future coronavirus cases and deaths, constantly tweaking them based on how the epidemic curve changes and which preventative measures, like social distancing or mask requirements, are put in place.
The current model predicts that by October 1, more than 179,000 people in the US will die from COVID-19. So far, more than 122,000 people have been killed by the virus, so the forecast expects an additional 57,000 deaths in three months.
Those numbers are based on current social-distancing measures and rates of mask-wearing. But when the model took into account how transmission would change if 95% of the population were to wear face masks in public, the number of projected deaths fell to 146,000.
“There is no doubt that even as states open up, the United States is still grappling with a large epidemic on a course to increase beginning in late August and intensifying in September,” IHME director Christopher Murray said in a statement. “People need to know that wearing masks can reduce transmission of the virus by as much as 50%, and those who refuse are putting their lives, their families, their friends, and their communities at risk.”
States could save lives with mask requirements
The IHME’s models also show how mask requirements would change the course of specific statewide outbreaks.
Take Florida, for example, which does not have a statewide mask mandate, though a few counties do require them. If Florida continues on its current trajectory, according to the IHME model, there would be nearly 15,400 COVID-19 deaths by October 1. Currently, the coronavirus has killed 3,300 people in the state. But if 95% of all Floridians started wearing masks now, there would only be 7,500 deaths by October 1.
Compare that to California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom started requiring all residents to wear masks last week. The coronavirus death toll in California on October 1 is projected to be 11,600. With even more widespread mask use, the projected death …read more
Source:: Business Insider