Wear A Mask You Could Help Save 66,000 Lives In US

September 18, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has now claimed more than 715,800 lives worldwide, including more than 160,000 in the United States alone. Wearing a mask could save the lives of an additional 66,000 Americans who, by December, according to a new model, won’t die from the virus.

Wearing a mask is one of the simplest and easiest ways to keep friends, family and strangers safe from the new coronavirus.” Rarely do you see something so simple, so inexpensive, and so easy for everyone to participate in that can have such an extraordinary impact in the United States, but also around the world,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), at an Aug. 6 CNN Global Town Hall.

The IHME model, often cited by the White House in the early days of the epidemic, now predicts that another 134,854 people will die from the coronavirus in the U.S. by December, which would bring the total to 295,011. But if 95 percent of people in the U.S. wore masks every time they set foot outside their homes from now on, the total number of deaths is expected to drop 49 percent to 228,271, scientists found.

That’s the equivalent of saving more than 66,000 lives in the United States.

“What we’re seeing in the U.S. is a roller coaster,” Murray said in a statement.” It appears that as infection rates increased, people wore masks more frequently and kept their social distance, and then after a while, as infection rates dropped, people relaxed and stopped taking those measures to protect themselves and others – which, of course, led to more infections.”

In fact, according to the statement, states with larger outbreaks have seen larger increases in mask-wearing behavior. As the U.S. continues to battle the first wave of the epidemic, many stores and even entire states have implemented the masks. Arizona, California, Florida and Texas are now seeing a drop in infection rates, which could be the result of local mandates to wear masks, bar and restaurant closures and more responsible behavior, Murray said in the statement.

“There is a direct correlation between the public’s behavior and the spread of the virus and, by extension, the number of deaths,” Murray said.” This effort at more careful and responsible behavior will be an important aspect of COVID-19’s predictions and an up-and-down pattern for individual states in the coming months and next year.”

Recent simulations using a mannequin head attached to a fog machine have shown the effectiveness of the masks. Without the mask, droplets from coughing spread as far as 12 feet (3.7 meters), but in the best-case scenario, droplets traveled only a few inches from the culprit, according to a previous Live Science report.

According to the statement, mask regulations, as well as public information, led to a 5 percentage point increase in the number of people wearing masks in the U.S. public. (In other words, if, for example, 50 percent of the population initially wore masks, then public messaging led to 55 percent of the population now wearing masks. iHME’s model shows that a mask mandate without penalty increases mask wear by 8 percentage points, while a mandate with penalty increases mask wear by 15 percentage points.

Remember. Continue to distance yourself from others in the community, as the epidemic is far from over. Wear your masks over your nose and mouth, as they won’t work if they only cover your mouth.