US Covid-19 deaths could decrease if Americans' mask use at same level as Singapore: US report

In early September, it was reported that more Americans have started to not wear masks when going out.
In early September, it was reported that more Americans have started to not wear masks when going out.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON - Total coronavirus deaths in the United States could drop to below 300,000 by January next year, a model by the University of Washington's health institute has projected, if more Americans wear masks at the same level as people in Singapore.

"If mask use could be increased to approximately 95 per cent - the level observed in Singapore and some other countries - forecasted cumulative deaths drop to 275,000 by Jan 1, saving 96,000 lives between now and the end of the year," the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) said in its Sept 23 model update report.

An average of 700 Americans are dying from Covid-19 daily, down from the mid-August peak of around 1,200 daily deaths and an all-time high of more than 2,000 in April.

IHME forecasted that the cumulative death toll in the US could reach 371,000 by Jan 1 as winter approaches.

This is not the first time the institute has cited Singapore in its reports about the usage of masks.

In early September, it noted that more Americans have started to not wear masks when going out, saying that "increasing mask use to the levels seen in Singapore would decrease the cumulative death toll to 288,000, or 122,000 lives saved", it said.

US President Donald Trump and his administration have faced criticism for their handling of the pandemic, as well as for a lax approach to mask wearing and social distancing in the White House.

Currently, there is no federal mandate to wear a mask, and 17 states do not require them, according to Reuters.

According to IHME, the wearing of masks is at 48 per cent nationally, although some states like California, Hawaii, Alaska, Washington and Florida now have mask use of more than 50 per cent.

The US leads the world in coronavirus infections, with nearly 215,000 deaths from Covid-19 and 7.76 million cases.