Universal mask use could save 130,000 lives in U.S.


Nearly 130,000 fewer people will die of COVID-19 this winter if 95% of Americans wear face masks in public, according to research published Friday.

Why it matters: “Increasing mask use is one of the best strategies that we have right now to delay the imposition of social distancing mandates,” Dr. Christopher Murray of the University of Washington told the N.Y. Times.

  • “We strongly believe we are heading into a pretty grim winter season.”
  • The new study estimates hospitalizations and deaths will rise until January, then continue at that level until the spring.
  • It “also offered a rough estimate of the pandemic’s toll in the United States: perhaps 500,000 deaths by March 2021, even with social distancing mandates reinstated in most states,” the Times notes.

The big picture: States with higher percentages of people who wear masks in public tend to have a lower percentage of people who know someone with COVID symptoms, WashPost reports. (See a graphic.)

  • Between the lines: “[I]f people say they’re not wearing masks, they may not be taking other protective measures either. So perhaps what we see is a combination of mask usage, other social distancing behaviors and perhaps other factors we haven’t measured,” Carnegie Mellon professor Alex Reinhart told the Post.

The bottom line: Wear a mask, help save a life.

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