July 6, 2020

Masks don’t just save lives. They boost the economy

By ELIZABETH SEGRAN

At this point, we know that wearing masks can help stop the spread of the coronavirus. But a team at Goldman Sachs Research believes that it’s also beneficial for the economy.

In a recent report, the economists argue that mask wearing could avert economic shutdowns and save 5% of U.S. GDP.

According to the research, a federal mandate forcing people to wear masks in public could lower the national daily growth rate of new coronavirus infections from 1.6% to 0.6%. To achieve a similar decrease in infections by closing businesses would bring about a fall in GDP of 5%. In other words, masks work very well at curbing the spread of the disease and are far less economically painful than shutting down the economy.

The report points out that the United States stands apart from other countries when it comes to wearing face masks. In Asia, mask-wearing has been common for some time and has been widespread during the coronavirus outbreak. In Europe, many countries have mandated masks in public. But the United States has no federal mandate, nor cultural norms that have led to the widespread use of masks. In fact, it’s become a highly polarized and politicized issue.