Voluntary Wearing of Mask Could Smooth a Quick Re-Opening
The COVID-19 death rates in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, and South Korea each have been tiny fractions of those in Western European and Scandinavian countries and the United States and Canada.
As of April 18, Worldometers reported that Taiwan’s number of deaths per million inhabitants was 0.3. In Hong Kong, the number was 0.5. The numbers in Singapore, Japan, and South Korea, respectively, were 2, 2, and 5.
The numbers in Western European and Scandinavian countries and the U.S. and Canada, from lowest to highest, were: Finland: 16; Iceland: 26; Liechtenstein: 26; Norway: 30; Canada: 39; Austria: 49; Germany: 53; Denmark: 60; Portugal: 67; Monaco: 76; Luxembourg: 115; Ireland: 116; U.S.: 117; Sweden: 150; Switzerland: 158; Netherlands: 210; U.K.: 228; France: 296; Italy: 384; Spain: 429; Andorra: 453; Belgium: 471; and San Marino: 1149.
Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and South Korea – as well as Germany and Iceland – are reputed to have been particularly prolific in testing and tracing those found to be infected, but Japan not so much.
So what explains the difference between these exceptionally low Asian country and city death rates and the much higher West European, Scandinavian, U.S., and Canadian national death rates?
This may have important implications for reopening the U.S. economy.
The key to reopening is stopping the spread of the virus. Testing and tracing are helpful, but they can only do so much. A test for infection with nearly instantaneous results that shows a negative result may be outdated in minutes, hours, or days if after the test, the person tested is exposed to someone infected.
We will never be able to test everyone continuously.
We don’t yet have even close to enough tests with quick and reliable results to test everyone even once. We will never have enough to test everyone every day or even everyone every week.
And we will likely never be able to trace enough of the test results quickly enough to make much of a difference in slowing the spread of the virus.
So everyone consider wearing a mask, a bandana, or some other mouth and nose covering in public. It may be the key to reopening the economy as much as possible as soon as possible.