Mask-Wearing at Half What’s Needed to Save 117,000 Lives This Year — and Trump Supporters Are Dragging it Down

Anti-Mask, Anti-Vax, Pro-Trump

Bridget Bennett/AFP, Getty Images

Disturbing data shows that the U.S. is currently at about half the coronavirus mask compliance needed to save as many as 200,000 lives by the end of the year, and polling shows supporters of President Donald Trump are responsible for most of that gap.

According to a key predictive model used by the White House coronavirus task force — The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation — “universal mask use” could save hundreds of thousands of lives by the end of the year. The model projects a total U.S. death toll of just over 415,000 under current conditions, versus about 298,000 if “universal masking” were being observed.

But things can get even worse — the model predicts a death toll of around 612,000 if masking and social distancing mandates are eased. The model defines 95 percent mask compliance as the target for “universal mask use” — but shows current mask use at just 45 percent.

Mask use is defined as “the percentage of the population who say they always wear a mask in public.”


That compliance rate tracks fairly closely to the most recent Yahoo! News/YouGov poll, which found only 55 percent of respondents had worn a mask every time they left home in the previous 7 days. Either ten percent of them were lying, or it was a “good” week for mask compliance.

But among those who plan to vote for Trump this year, only 33 percent said they’d worn a mask every time they left home, by far the lowest compliance of any subgroup polled. The highest compliance was among Biden voters, at 72 percent.

Yahoo! News/YouGov

If you throw in people who wore a mask all or “most” of the time, Biden voters are at 93 percent compliance — still short of the 95 percent target, but damn close — while Trump supporters “improve” to 55 percent. But the model isn’t based on people mostly complying, and there’s no scientific evidence that the coronavirus gives you credit for trying.

If recent social media trends are any indication, people are fast losing their patience with the anti-mask crowd, and results like these vividly illustrate why that is.

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