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A national mask mandate could save the U.S. economy $1 trillion

A Goldman Sachs study suggests that a national mask mandate would be instrumental in reducing coronavirus infections and save the U.S. economy from a 5% hit.

Iranian women wearing protective masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, walk along a street in the capital Tehran on July 1, 2020. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP)

The wearing of a face-mask is not just a tool to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus but it could also be instrumental in aiding the hard hit American economy, according to a new Goldman Sachs study carried out by Jan Hatzius, a chief economist with the investment bank

The study advocates that the by-product of masks being worn by the American public could indirectly leat to preventing a 5% decline in gross domestic product (GDP) with the masks being a mechanic in avoiding more positive cases and offering less burden to the health system.

Using face masks would permit businesses to reopen quickly and help stem economic losses suffered during the lockdown with the Goldman Sachs research claiming that the usage of protective masks would reduce the daily growth rate of coronavirus cases from the current 1.6 percent to 0.6 percent.

“We find that face masks are associated with significantly better coronavirus outcomes,”  Hatzius wrote in a note on Monday. “These calculations imply that a face mask mandate could potentially substitute for lockdowns that would otherwise subtract nearly 5 percent from GDP.

Masks being used as political football

The topic of wearing a mask in the U.S. has political undertones and it was interesting to see the approach by a leading Republican in the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy as he stated that every American has a responsibility to follow the recommendations of health officials to wear masks and socially distance themselves to help slow the spread of infection.

"They should wear a mask," McCarthy told CNBC on Monday after his home state of California began to roll back efforts to reopen the economy. "If you cannot social distance, you need to be wearing a mask and you need to be respectful to one another."

Republican Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, where cases are spiking, posted a similar message on Twitter. "I am encouraging everyone to WEAR YOUR MASKS!" he said.

U.S. President Trump however has given at least two reasons for eschewing a mask in public, while his Democratic opponent in November's election, Joe Biden, generally wears one.

Trump has said he cannot picture himself in a mask while greeting royalty and foreign leaders, including dictators. He also has said he did not want to give journalists the pleasure of seeing him wear one.

About 20 states have issued state-wide mandates requiring people to wear face masks in public, while in others, such as Texas, Florida and Arizona, three of the largest Covid-19 hot spots, conservative resistance has stopped governors from mandating the use of masks.

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