If 95% of Americans wore masks in public, more than 100,000 lives could be saved from COVID-19 through February, a new modeling study suggests.
The study, from the COVID-19 forecasting team at the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, notes that as of September 21, 2020, only about 49% of US residents reported that “ they always »wear a mask in public.
If mask use remains at 49% through February 2021, and states continue to remove social distancing mandates, the number of COVID-19 deaths in the United States could reach around 1 million deaths by February 28. February 2021, according to the study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, this Friday, October 23, 2020.
Under the assumption that states close when their daily death rate exceeds eight deaths per 1 million people, but the use of masks does not change, the study’s model projections predict that the number of deaths could reach 511,373 deaths for on February 28, 2021.
The scenario in which 95% of people in each state wear masks, in addition to states reinstating social distancing mandates, if their daily death rates exceed deaths per 1 million people, resulted in the projected number of deaths lower, with 381,798 deaths as of Feb. 28, 2021, according to the study.
For the study, the researchers analyzed data on COVID-19 cases and deaths in the United States from February 1 of the current year to September 21, 2020. That analysis, along with other factors, such as seasonality of the pneumonia, testing rates, and mask use, helped inform the model’s projections for the course of the pandemic through February 28, 2021.
The study had some limitations, including that the findings are only model forecast projections and not definitive about what the future holds.
IHME Director Dr. Chris Murray emphasized during a virtual press conference this Friday, October 23, that the institute’s weekly modeling projections provide more up-to-date data than those provided in the study. However, the study still helps provide insight into how mask use can make a difference.
Translation by Latin Opinion Baltimore