There are not nearly enough Americans using masks to bend the curve on the coronavirus infection rate, the head of one of the main teams forecasting the pandemic said Friday.
The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) revised its forecast this week for coronavirus deaths because of rising infection rates and because too few Americans were using face masks regularly, IHME’s Dr. Chris Murray told CNN.
This week’s IHME forecast of 230,822 US deaths from the virus by November is up about 11,000 from last week’s projection of 219,864 deaths.
“There's daily data that comes in on mask-wearing in each state in the US, and that's showing a small bump — maybe about a five percentage point increase in mask wearing,” Murray said. “So we're getting close to about 55% of Americans wearing a mask. That's good news, but of course it's a long way to go before we get to the levels like Singapore has at 95%, which would really save a lot of lives in this country.”
The model projects that if almost all Americans wore face masks, the number of deaths by November would drop by around 32,000, to just below 199,000 deaths.
Murray says the “good news” is that cases are peaking in Florida, Texas, California and somewhat in Arizona, which is bringing their numbers down a bit.
“But we're seeing numbers going up faster in a whole series of states in the Midwest. And that's driving up our numbers. Places, also, like Georgia and North Carolina are going up faster than we expected,” he said.