Coronavirus: Goldman Sachs says face masks can save US economy
Destroyed by the coronavirus pandemic, the United States can save itself by following one small practice — wearing masks. Leading investment bank Goldman Sachs declared that masks can not only save lives but rescue the economy too. Health experts also want Americans to wear a mask. But President Donald Trump hasn't made it mandatory and, shockingly, decried those who wear one.
In the last few months, the US has touched one grim benchmark after another as far as the pandemic is concerned. A staggering 2,727,853 have been infected with the deadly virus and 130,122 have already died. Worryingly, stay-at-home guidelines have been rolled back in some states, leading to a surge in infections. Healthcare officials are already concerned about a second wave of the pandemic.
Last month, the World Health Organization had asked countries to issue guidelines about masks. Maria Van Kerkhove, the body's lead technical expert on COVID-19, said evidence showed that a mask works as a barrier "for potentially infectious droplets." In fact, countries like India, UK, Mexico, and Germany have made it mandatory to wear a mask publicly. But the US hasn't.
The investment bank released an analysis explaining that a federal mask mandate would avert a 5% hit on GDP, as covering faces would ensure that infection rates are contained, thereby reducing the need of lockdowns. "We find that face masks are associated with significantly better coronavirus outcomes," Goldman's Chief Economist Jan Hatzius stated. Goldman said a national mandate would improve mask usage substantially.
Further, in the note to clients, Hatzius wrote, "Our baseline estimate is that a national mandate could raise the percentage of people who wear masks by 15 [percentage points] and cut the daily growth rate of confirmed cases by 1.0 [percentage point] to 0.6%."
While there is immense evidence to show mask is the best weapon in this battle, Trump has rarely encouraged it, and never set an example. In April, he exclaimed a "masked" President won't look good. Then, he said some wore masks to show their disapproval for him. More recently, he asserted that by wearing masks, people ignore other precautions, like not touching their faces.
Speaking to The Wall Street Journal recently, Trump said that people touch and grab masks at all times. "They come in, they take the mask. Now they're holding it now in their fingers. And they drop it on the desk and then they touch their eye and they touch their nose," he said. He even argued that masks may make wearers a "little cocky."
While Trump's disdain for masks is well-known, even his supporters want him to wear one. Steve Doocy, the host of Fox & Friends, a show Trump follows, said the President should just wear one to set a good example. "He would be a good role model. I don't see any downside to the President wearing a mask in public," he reportedly said.
The coronavirus task force also pleaded Americans to wear a mask. A member of the team, Surgeon General Jerome Adams, said, "Please, please, please wear a face-covering when you go out in public." Vice President Mike Pence has also started wearing one. "We must have no stigma — none — about wearing masks when we leave our homes and come near other people," he said.
In a similar vein, Constance Hunter, the chief economist at KPMG, said she doesn't understand the politics around masks. Everyone wants their freedom back and masks can actually give them that, she opined. Painting a grim picture of the economy, she said some businesses might never recover. "There is no way we are having a V-shaped recovery. It's a fantasy," she said.