The Case for Universal Cloth Mask Adoption and Policies to Increase Supply of Medical Masks for Health Workers

12 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2020

See all articles by Jason Abaluck

Jason Abaluck

Yale School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Judith A. Chevalier

Yale School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Nicholas A. Christakis

Yale University - Yale Institute for Network Science

Howard Paul Forman

Yale School of Management

Edward H. Kaplan

Yale School of Management

Albert Ko

Yale School of Public Health - Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases

Sten H. Vermund

Yale University - School of Public Health

Date Written: April 1, 2020

Abstract

We recommend the immediate universal adoption of cloth facemasks, including homemade, and accompanying policies to increase the supply of medical masks for health workers. Universal adoption will likely slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus by reducing transmission from asymptomatic individuals. We provide strongly suggestive evidence from cross-country data that facemask use slows the growth rate of cases and deaths. This complements extant scientific data on mask usage. Our analysis suggests each cloth facemask generates thousands of dollars in value from reduced mortality risk. Each medical mask, when used by a healthcare worker, may generate millions of dollars in value, and policies to encourage greater production prioritized for health workers are urgently needed.

Suggested Citation

Abaluck, Jason and Chevalier, Judith A. and Christakis, Nicholas A. and Forman, Howard Paul and Kaplan, Edward H. and Ko, Albert and Vermund, Sten H., The Case for Universal Cloth Mask Adoption and Policies to Increase Supply of Medical Masks for Health Workers (April 1, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3567438 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3567438

Jason Abaluck

Yale School of Management

165 Whitney Avenue
New Haven, CT 06511
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Judith A. Chevalier (Contact Author)

Yale School of Management ( email )

135 Prospect Street
P.O. Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Nicholas A. Christakis

Yale University - Yale Institute for Network Science

United States

Howard Paul Forman

Yale School of Management ( email )

135 Prospect Street
P.O. Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://som.yale.edu/faculty/howard-p-forman

Edward H. Kaplan

Yale School of Management ( email )

135 Prospect Street
P.O. Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
United States
203-432-6031 (Phone)

Albert Ko

Yale School of Public Health - Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases ( email )

United States

Sten H. Vermund

Yale University - School of Public Health

PO Box 208034
60 College Street
New Haven, CT 06520-8034
United States

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