Coronavirus

Goldman Sachs: Face Mask Mandate Would Cut Infections, Help Economy 

woman in face mask

Goldman Sachs has an idea for Capitol Hill to cut the daily growth rate of COVID-19 cases and help the economy: mandatory face masks.

“We find that face masks are associated with significantly better coronavirus outcomes,” Jan Hatzius, Goldman’s chief economist, wrote in a note to clients, CNBC reported.

Not only that, but Hatzius said his research team found a national mask law could spare the U.S. economy from suffering a 5 percent tumble in gross domestic product (GDP), the total value of goods produced and services provided in a year, the network reported.

“These calculations imply that a face mask mandate could potentially substitute for lockdowns that would otherwise subtract nearly 5 percent from GDP,” Hatzius added.

Goldman said a federal law requiring face masks could raise the number of people who wear masks by 15 percentage points and cut the daily growth rate of coronavirus cases by 1 percent, CNBC reported.

On Monday (June 29), there were 35,664 new COVID-19 cases in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If Americans wore face masks, that number would be reduced by about 357, using the Goldman calculations. It may not sound like a lot, but considering there were 2.6 million cases of COVID-19 in the country as of Tuesday (June 30), that tiny percentage adds up.

On how the conclusions were reached, Hatzius provided insight into the study.

For example, 40 percent of respondents in Arizona said they always wear face masks in public, compared with nearly 80 percent in Massachusetts.

The Goldman team  analyzed the impact of mandates issued by 20 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia between April 8 and June 24 and compared it with actual face mask usage in public using YouGov COVID-19 respondent data, the network reported.

The results, Goldman said, are large and highly significant and demonstrate that state mask mandates raise the percentage of people who say they always or frequently wear masks by 25 percentage points in the 30 days after the government order.

And the group who said they always wear masks rises by 40 percentage points more than a month after the mandate.

“If a face mask mandate meaningfully lowers coronavirus infections, it could be valuable not only from a public health perspective but also from an economic perspective because it could substitute for renewed lockdowns that would otherwise hit GDP,” Hatzius wrote.

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