CALIFORNIA: Wear a mask. It’s that simple. If 95% of us do so in public, it could save 130,000 lives between Sept. 22 and the end of February, per a new study published in Nature.
The big picture: Under states’ current mitigation strategies, the model estimates that more than 500,000 Americans could have died over the course of the pandemic by Feb. 28.
This assumes that states would start implementing social distancing mandates again once they hit a daily death rate of 8 deaths per 1 million people.
If states continue to ease mandates and don’t reinstate them in response to rising death rates, and behavior doesn’t vary, more than a million Americans could have died by the end of February.
Yes, but: How bad the pandemic gets over the next few months is entirely dependent on human behavior.
“It’s not a prediction or forecast, because we can will this number out of existence,” said Shweta Bansal, an infectious disease modeler at Georgetown University, told NYT.
The bottom line: “Achieving near-universal mask use … has the potential to save the most lives while minimizing damage to the economy,” the authors write.
“It is likely that US residents will need to choose between higher levels of mask use or risk the frequent redeployment of more stringent and economically damaging [social distancing mandates]; or, in the absence of either measure, face a reality of a rising death toll.”