More than half a million people in the United States could die from COVID-19 by the end of February next year, but around 130,000 of those lives could be saved if everyone wore masks , according to estimates from a modeling study.
Estimates, from a study by researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, show that with few effective treatment options for COVID-19 and no vaccine yet available, the United States faces “a continuing winter COVID-19 public health challenge.”
“We’re heading into a very big fall / winter push,” said IHME director Chris Murray, who co-led the research.
He said the projections, as well as the current real evidence of rising infection rates and deaths, showed that there is no basis for “the idea of the pandemic going away,” adding: “We don’t think that’s true.”
US President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 221,000 Americans to date, has become the main electoral issue for him and Democratic candidate Joe Biden. Polls have shown Americans trust Biden more than Trump to handle the crisis.
The IHME study predicts that large populated states like California, Texas and Florida are likely to face particularly high levels of illness, death and demands on hospital resources.
“We expect the outbreak to increase steadily in different states and nationally, and continue to increase as we move towards high levels of daily deaths in late December and January,” Murray said.
The modeling study, which mapped various scenarios and their projected impact on the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic in the United States, found that wearing a universal mask could have a major impact on death rates, potentially saving 130,000 lives.
The current use of masks in the United States varies widely. While some states, like New York, have strict rules on when to wear masks, others have no requirements. The issue turned political, in which some supporters took inspiration from Trump, who is often seen without a mask and has repeatedly questioned their usefulness.
“The expansion of the use of masks is one of the easy victories for the United States… and can save many lives,” Murray said.
He added that just like now in parts of Europe and some local areas of high transmission in the United States, many US states are expected to reintroduce social distancing measures to curb the winter push.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by GalacticGaming staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)