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Wearing a mask could help save the economy, researchers say

Economists at Goldman Sachs project that extended lockdowns caused by a spike in COVID-19 cases could subtract $1 trillion from the U.S. economy.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Health experts have said that face masks are our best tool in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and new research suggests they could also help save the U.S. economy

The use of masks during the global pandemic has become a hot button issue but a new report put the debate into stark economic terms. Research has shown that areas that do not impose mask mandates see more coronavirus infections and deaths. 

With a surge in new cases in many parts of the country, many states and cities are having to roll back their reopening plans. A team of economists at Goldman Sachs crunched the numbers and projected that those lockdowns are going to cost 5% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). 

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. 

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Researchers also calculated the rate of COVID-19 spread with and without mask mandates. They estimate that without a nationwide face mask order, the daily growth rate is 10% higher than if there was a mandate in place. 

A Johns Hopkins epidemiologist cautioned in The Washington Post that it's hard to make a straight connection between mask orders and infection rates because of other steps leaders take that could affect the numbers. But she did say that masks are an important component to stopping the spread of COVID-19.