A nationwide mask mandate will not only reduce coronavirus infections but also save the US economy, a study by the financial services firm Goldman Sachs has found.
A team of experts led by chief economist Jan Hatzius examined the possible impact of a mask mandate on 32 states that currently don’t have one and on those remaining states – including Washington DC – that do.
They discovered that requiring masks would lead to an increase in mask usage for both groups of states and could lower the daily growth rate of coronavirus infections from 2.0 percent to around 1 percent for states that don’t require masks and from 0.8-0.9 percent to 0.4-0.5 percent for those that do.
A lower coronavirus infection rate would then prevent further lockdowns that could result in US GDP losses of up to 5 percent, or about $1 trillion.
The benefits of widespread mask usage could also trickle down to individuals, researchers noted. Preventing a 5% loss to the GDP translates to about $3,000 in personal savings, mainly as a result of the lower prices of goods and services. Wearing a mask would also spare people from having to pay for COVID-19 treatment, which could cost thousands of dollars.
This study comes as states like Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas reconsider their plans for reopening amid a rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths.
Despite the lack of a nationwide mask mandate, some states and cities have taken it upon themselves to require residents to wear face coverings in public. Still, the implementation of such policies has generally been lax and not uniform.
Los Angeles, for example, has over 220,000 cases and 5,300 deaths as of mid-August 2020, despite having a mask mandate.
Chris Foster, former COO of global advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, believes that the overall macro impact of not wearing a mask on the economy would have a potentially devastating effect on individuals and families. He also says that without a healthy growing economy, there would be no jobs, which means that people would be spending less on goods and services, which then leads to a vicious cycle.
Foster considers himself an advocate for widespread mask usage. He is currently the chief management officer of School Mask Pack, which sells reusable cloth masks in fun colors and designs for kids, teens, and adults.
In late June of 2020, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called on President Donald Trump to issue an executive order that would require the wearing of masks in public. He pointed out that his state has proven that face coverings can help beat back rising COVID-19 infections.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden made a similar call during a speech the next day, saying that those at the “very top” of the government should decisively signal that wearing masks can help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Though President Trump once tweeted that wearing a mask is a “patriotic” thing to do, he has repeatedly rejected calls for a national mask mandate, saying that wearing masks is a “personal choice,” and that he wants people to “have a certain freedom.” He also said that he doesn’t believe “everything disappears” when people are forced to wear a mask.
Experts have warned that the Trump administration’s mixed messaging on masks only creates widespread confusion and undermines the country’s efforts to prevent more COVID-19 cases and deaths.
The US continues to be the country hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, with over 5.6 million confirmed cases and around 175,000 deaths as of mid-August. Within the same month, COVID-19 became the third-leading cause of death in the US, after heart disease and cancer.