The U.S. Could "Control" COVID in Just Two Months by Doing This, Says CDC
"We could bring this epidemic under control" if everybody did this, Dr. Redfield says.
The use of masks has become a hotly debated topic amid the coronavirus pandemic, with different parts of the country adopting them and others shunning them. Now, Robert Redfield, MD, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is offering some insight into just how much masks can help contain the coronavirus pandemic. "If we could get everybody to wear a mask right now, I think in four, six, eight weeks we could bring this epidemic under control," Redfield said during a live-stream interview with the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on July 14. His estimate reinforces the notion that universal mask-wearing remains one of the best ways to wrangle the COVID-19 contagion.
There is growing evidence that regions that first embraced universal mask-wearing were the first to stem the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak. A June study out of Virginia Commonwealth University reveals compelling evidence that those countries that quickly enacted widespread mask use had far lower death rates than those that didn't. A Philadelphia Inquirer study in June found that states that only recommended their residents wear masks—without requiring them—saw coronavirus cases rise by 84 percent over a two-week period. By comparison, states that had mandated masks saw cases for 25 percent over the same period.
And according to Healthdata.org, operated by the University of Washington, over 240,000 Americans will die from the coronavirus by November 1 unless there is universal mask-wearing. If universal mask-wearing is adopted, then they project roughly 180,000 total deaths—which mean masks can save 60,000 lives.
On the JAMA podcast, it wasn't all encouraging news from Redfield, however. Just minutes before encouraging all citizens to wear masks, he gave a grim warning about the coming season: "I do think the fall and the winter of 2020 and 2021 are going to be probably one of the most difficult times that we experience in American public health." Redfield explained that he is worried specifically about "the co-occurrence of COVID and influenza," which would overwhelm the country's healthcare system. And for more on that, check out The CDC Director Just Said the Words No American Wants to Hear Right Now.