Wearing a mask has become a particularly burning issue in the United States, which is in the midst of a coronavirus crisis that seems to be getting out of hand on a daily basis.
However, a recent report by Goldman Sachs indicates that the lack of a national policy mandating the use of face masks throughout the United States is an unnecessary blow to the national economy.
A team of economists led by Jan Hatzius, Chief Economist at Goldman, says that a national face-mask mandate could be a partial substitute for capital renewal, as VIDOC-19 shifts are increasing in a number of southern and western U.S. states, which “would otherwise subtract 5% of gross domestic product” (see attached table):
The Goldman team attempted to explore the link between wearing a mask to protect against the droplets that transmit the COVID-19 infection, focusing on three key areas:
- An American regional panel in which we relate the rate of increase in infections and deaths to the introduction of mandatory masks in the US states
- A large cross-section at the national level in which we relate cumulative infections and deaths to the time between the onset of spread and the introduction of a mandatory face mask
- A smaller panel at the country level where we relate the growth rate of infections and deaths to the delay in mask use.
“We begin by showing that a national mandate would likely significantly increase the use of masks, especially in states such as Florida and Texas where the wearing of masks remains largely voluntary to this day,” write the Goldman researchers in their 11-page report.
Their data showed that countries that fail to expand the use of masking see both infections and deaths increase:
The Goldman Report comes at a time when Florida, Texas, California and Arizona – the states responsible for much of the recent increase in U.S. cases – have imposed new restrictions and cancelled their reopening plans.
There are now 10.4 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide and at least 509,706 people have died, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University. The United States continues to lead the world with 2.68 million cases and 129,545 deaths.
On Monday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization, said the pandemic “is not even close to being over”
Yet mask use in the United States has been lax and inconsistent. Hugo’s Tacos, a Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles, temporarily closed its doors, saying its employees were being bullied for enforcing mask protocols in their restaurants.
Los Angeles, in particular, has seen an explosion of COVID-19 cases, with about 100,000 cases and more than 3,300 deaths.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has expanded its guidelines on masks to say that Americans should wear them in all “public places when they are in the presence of people outside their homes.” It had previously recommended that masks be worn in places such as grocery stores and pharmacies, where social distance is difficult to maintain.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday that President Donald Trump, who had strongly opposed the wearing of masks despite public health recommendations, should “put on a mask” at a press conference Monday.
In a speech in Wilmington on Tuesday, Del, the presumed Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, said the “very high” U.S. government should send a decisive signal that wearing a mask can help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The president’s views on the use of masks are seen as hampering efforts by public health officials to encourage the use of masks and other personal protective equipment, or PPE, to stop the resurgence of infection.
White House press secretary Kaleigh McEnany said at a press conference Monday that the president “encourages people to make the most appropriate decision for their safety, but he told me that he has no problem with the masks and will do whatever his local jurisdiction requires.”
“It’s his choice to wear a mask. It is the personal choice of every individual to wear a mask or not,” she said.
Fears of a resurgence of the disease have also created turbulence in equity markets after the Dow Jones Industrial AverageDJIA
s&P 500SPX Index,+
the NasdaqCOMP Composite Index,+
the U.S. economy has been on a downward trend since the lows in late March, in the hope that the U.S. has taken control of the epidemic, which optimistic investors say could help fuel a so-called “V”, or brutal, economic recovery