Masks Wearing Could Save Lives

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Day 216: Stay Safe Minnesota

A recent study published in Nature Medicine forecasts that if 95% of Americans wore masks in public, more than 100,000 lives and — and perhaps more than half a million — could be saved from Covid-19 through February.

Masks wearing is controversial in the US, although many studies have concluded that wearing mask, washinghands and social distancing reduce spread of coronavirus spread.

According a recent modelling study published in Nature Medicine, if 95% of Americans wore masks in public, more than 100,000 lives and — and perhaps more than half a million — could be saved from Covid-19 through February. The study was led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) COVID-19 Forecasting Team at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation — noted that only about 49% of US residents reported, in September, that they “always” wear a mask in public.

If mask-wearing is 49% through February and states continue with removing social distancing mandates, the Covid-19 death toll across the United States could reach about 1 million deaths by February 28.

IHME COVID-19 Forecasting Team (source: CNN)

During a recent virtual press briefing, IHME Director Dr. Chris Murray emphasized that the study helps offer insight into how mask-wearing can make a difference.

We think the key point here is that there’s a huge winter surge coming and our models have been showing that for many months. You can see in the paper what universal masks can do and they blunt quite a bit of the surge or delay it. I think it’s very difficult at the point where we are in the US — where there’s so much community transmission of the virus — to prevent some fall winter surge, but we can certainly make it much smaller.

IHME Director Dr. Chris Murray (source: CNN)

Quoting Dr Murray, CNN writes: “The fall/winter surge will intensify in November and December, reaching a peak in January. Many states will face enormous pressure on hospital capacity and will likely have to re-impose some social distancing mandates. The best strategy to delay re-imposition of mandates and the associated economic hardship is to expand mask use.”

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Coronavirus Pandemic Watch

According to the MDH latest tally (as of Oct 28, 11 a.m.) the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota are 139,444 (out of 2,739,997 tested) with 2,387 deaths. According to Johns Hopkins database (as of Oct 28, 3:25 p.m.) there are 8,836,861 confirmed covid19 infection with 227,409 deaths. Globally the covid19 virus has infected 44,311,674 with 1,171,286 deaths.