WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — Want to help the economy? Get everyone to wear a face mask.
So suggest economists at Goldman Sachs, who say a U.S. mandate for masks could slow the spread of the coronavirus as much as renewed lockdowns that would subtract nearly 5% from the economy.
The analysts found a national mask mandate would "likely increase face mask usage meaningfully," especially in some recently hard hit states like Florida and Texas, where masks have remained mostly voluntary.
The investment bank acknowledged that its estimate of a 5% impact on the economy “is quite uncertain” because it’s based on a number of statistical relationships that are all measured with error. Forbes reported that 5% impact would translate to an estimated $1 trillion.
"If a face mask mandate meaningfully lowers coronavirus infections, it could be valuable not only from a public health perspective but also from an economic perspective because it could substitute for renewed lockdowns that would otherwise hit GDP," the researchers wrote.
The Goldman Sachs economists also said they know how uncertain the chances are for a national mandate given how politicized face masks have become.
"However, even in the absence of a national mandate, state and local authorities might well broaden mandates in ways that ultimately mimic the impact of a national mandate," the economists wrote. "Either way, our analysis suggests that the economy could beneﬁt signiﬁcantly from such moves, especially when compared with the alternative of a return to broader lockdowns."
On Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said coronavirus cases could grow to 100,000 a day in the U.S. if Americans don’t start following public health recommendations.