The U.S. could save nearly 70,000 lives by December if the country implements universal mask mandates, according to a projection by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).
Researchers from the institute also found that an estimated 134,000 people could die in the U.S. from COVID-19 by December if the country takes no further safety measures. That number, they said, could worsen if mandates are relaxed.
The U.S. has reported 5.6 million cases and more than 176,000 people have died from the virus as of Saturday night, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University.
IHME that if the U.S. keeps mandates as-is, the death rates would dip in September then rise later in the fall, and the total would reach about 310,000 by Dec. 1.
However, a federal universal mask mandate before the fall is highly unlikely, and President TrumpDonald John TrumpTwo ‘The Apprentice’ producers helping with Republican National Convention About 70,000 lives could be saved in near future if people wear masks: researchers Trump issues disaster declaration for California as wildfires rage MORE has expressed support for reopening businesses and schools.
Public health officials have changed course on their recommendations for face masks as scientists learned more about how the virus spreads.
In July the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that everyone “should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities.” The guideline came after several studies showed universal mask wearing could effectively contain the virus.