BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - More than 600 deaths could be prevented in Alabama if everyone wore a mask while in public, according to an analysis by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).
"A simple and very cheap solution. Everybody can do it, it's easy, it's available," said Professor Ali Mokdad, PhD, IHME, The University of Washington.
He added, “We have done a meta-analysis study where we analyze all data on the protective effect of masks and we found the effect is about 50% everywhere. In our models, we are using about 34% which is the lower bar to be conservative, and that’s about a third protection in transmission of the virus.”
IHME latest projections estimate 2,008 people will die in Alabama from COVID-19 by October 1. The estimate drops to 1,334 deaths if 99.5% of people wear masks while in public.
"That's a 674 difference in mortality by just wearing a mask, so we can do our parts by saving lives and saving our economy by wearing a mask," said Mokdad.
Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, Director, Division of Infectious Diseases, UAB, calls masks "one of the best tools we have to prevent the virus."
“I do think the models are compelling, more than that, the real world experience is. We have not seen healthcare workers get infected in hospital settings where masks are absolutely required, and we have seen masks be a big part of the success when we were controlling this infection in some of the places we talked about,” explained Dr. Marrazzo.
Professor Mokdad believes IHME modeling shows how wearing masks can make a "dramatic" difference.
“This is something that is very tangible and we know from history it will hold,” he said.