New forecast shows why masks are easiest, cheapest way to save lives in U.S. from COVID

Coronavirus
A man wears a face mask while walking past signs posted over windows of a store in the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco, Saturday, April 18, 2020. California's death count from the coronavirus surpassed 15,000 on Sunday, Sept. 20, even as the state saw widespread improvement in infection levels. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

A man wears a face mask while walking past signs posted over windows of a store in the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco, Saturday, April 18, 2020. California’s death count from the coronavirus surpassed 15,000 on Sunday, Sept. 20, even as the state saw widespread improvement in infection levels. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

If Americans would stop complaining about face masks and wear them when they leave their homes, they could save well over 100,000 lives — and perhaps more than half a million — through the end of February, according to a study published Friday in Nature Medicine.

The researchers considered five scenarios for how the COVID-19 pandemic could play out with different levels of mask-wearing and rules about staying home and social distancing. All the scenarios assumed that no vaccine was available, nor any medicines capable of curing the disease.

Consistently, the most effective — not to mention cheapest and easiest — way to reduce deaths was to increase the number of people wearing masks.

As of Sept. 21, only 49% of Americans said they “always” wore a mask in public, according to the study. If U.S. residents do not mask up in increasing numbers, they risk another round of mandatory social distancing measures that could shut businesses and schools around the country, the authors said.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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