Impact of Retrospective Face Mask Usage on COVID-19 Infections and Deaths in the United States
Yelena Sahakian, Tehreem Khaliq, Noopur Walia, Sara Mehmood and Ateequr Rahman
Background: The aim of the study was to investigate whether the implementation of face mask as a mitigation strategy earlier, as opposed to in April, would have made an impact on the number of COVID-19 cases and related mortality in the United States.
Material and Methods: A Decision tree (Markov Modeling) was performed utilizing the Tree age Software®. The data which was used for Markov Modeling was collected from Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center (CRC) and the CDC from February 1st through April 15th.
Results: Earlier use of face masks would have saved lives, prevented infections, and restricted the exponential spread of infections later in the pandemic. Had face masks been instituted on March 15th, 679,302 infections would have been prevented, and 31,863 lives would have been saved by April 15th. Similarly, had we instituted face masks on April 1, 527,123 infections would have been prevented, and 27,328 lives would have been saved by April 15th.
Conclusions: This study points to the missed opportunity of earlier initiation of the mitigation strategy of face mask use, with March 15th being a critical breakpoint. Face mask use must be strictly adhered to prevent the spread of infections and deaths due to Coronavirus.