National mask mandate would avert 5 percent GDP loss: Goldman Sachs

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A federal mandate to wear masks would slow the spread of the coronavirus enough to save the economy from losing 5 percent of its value, according to a Goldman Sachs study.

“We argue that a national face mask mandate could partially substitute for renewed lockdowns,” Goldman Sachs analysts Jann Hatzius, Daan Struyven and Isabella Rosenberg wrote in their study.

The analysis rested on several steps, finding that mask requirements led to an increase in mask usage that in turn led to better outcomes on COVID-19 spread. Those better outcomes paved the way for more sustained economic reopening. 

Mask-wearing has become politicized in the United States. President Trump refuses to wear one in public and has said that it’s a personal choice. At the Capitol, Democrats have pushed measures to ensure more stringent adherence to mask-wearing. Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said he favored a national mask mandate.

Some members of the GOP have come around more recently, including Vice President Pence, who wore a mask at a recent choral event, and House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney (Wyo.), who Tweeted a photo of her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, sporting a mask. 

The Goldman Sachs study found that states such as Florida and Texas, which don’t have mask mandates, could see a 25-point increase in mask usage if the federal government imposed a mask requirement, and the average level of usage could rise by 15 points across the board.

It then looked at the effects of mask on health outcomes and found that mask mandates cut the growth rate of the virus significantly.

“Our numerical estimates are that cumulative cases grow 17.3% per week without a mask mandate but only 7.3% with a mask mandate, and that cumulative fatalities grow 29% per week without a mask mandate but only 16% with a mask mandate,” the study found

The lockdowns in the early part of the pandemic led to a 17 percent drop in U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter.

Based on an index measuring the extent of lockdowns and their effect on economic growth, the analysts concluded that a mask mandate would ultimately prevent the economy from further potential losses.

“The upshot of our analysis is that a national face mask mandate could potentially substitute for renewed lockdowns that would otherwise subtract nearly 5% from GDP,” the authors found.

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 Donald Trump Face mask face masks Goldman Sachs Joe Biden Liz Cheney Masks Mike Pence

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