Wearing a mask has become a uniquely hot-button issue in the U.S., which finds itself in the throes of a coronavirus crisis that appears to be drifting out of control by the day.
However a recent report from Goldman Sachs projects that a lack of a national policy mandating the use of facial coverings throughout the U.S. is delivering an unnecessary hit to the domestic economy.
A team of economists lead by Jan Hatzius, chief economist at Goldman, makes the case that a national face-mask mandate could partially substitute for renewed lockdowns, as COVID-19 inflections flare up in a number of southern and western states in the U.S., that would “otherwise subtract 5% from gross domestic product.” (See attached chart):
The Goldman crew attempted to explore the link between mask usage to protect against the transmission of droplets that pass on the COVID-19 infection, with the team looking at three key elements:
A US regional panel in which we relate the growth rate of infections and fatalities to the introduction of state face mask mandate A large country-level cross section in which we relate cumulative infections and fatalities to the lag between the onset of spread and the introduction of a face mask mandate A smaller country-level panel in which we relate the growth rate of infections and fatalities to lagged mask usage.
“We start by showing that a national mandate would likely increase face mask usage meaningfully, especially in states such as Florida and Texas where masks remain largely voluntary to date,” the Goldman researchers write in their 11-page report.