Goldman Sachs: Nationwide mask mandate could prevent more lockdowns, avoid $1 trillion economic loss

"We find that face masks are associated with significantly better coronavirus outcomes," economists with the investment bank said.


Wearing a face mask during the pandemic saves lives. And it may save the economy, too, according to Goldman Sachs.

On Monday night, the investment bank released an extensive analysis that makes the economic and medical case for a national mask mandate.

By studying the link between coronavirus infections and mask mandates in U.S. states and overseas, the Wall Street bank estimated a national mandate could cut the daily growth rate of confirmed cases by one percentage point to just 0.6%.

That, in turn, could prevent the need for dreaded lockdowns that would wipe out 5% from U.S. GDP, the report said. That's the equivalent of about $1 trillion. "We find that face masks are associated with significantly better coronavirus outcomes," Jan Hatzius, chief economist at Goldman Sachs, wrote in in the report.

In April, the federal government issued a "recommendation" to wear masks in public. However, unlike such countries as Germany, India, Italy, the United Kingdom and Mexico, there is no nationwide requirement to do so in the United States.

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There is a wide disparity between mask usage within the United States even though Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, says masks are "extremely important."

For instance, Goldman Sachs said that only 40% of people in Arizona say they always wear a mask in public, compared with nearly 80% in Massachusetts.

A national mandate would increase usage "meaningfully," especially in states such as Florida and Texas where masks are worn mostly voluntarily, the Goldman Sachs report said. Overall, a mandate could lift the percentage of people who wear masks by 15 percentage points nationally.

"Our analysis suggests that the economic benefit from a face mask mandate and increased face mask usage could be sizable," Hatzius wrote.

Hearst TV contributed to this report.