You’ve probably seen a lot of people debating on whether or not people should be wearing masks when out in public.
Many people feel like being required to wear a mask is too much of an infringement upon their individual liberties while others are proponents of wearing masks because they believe they are effective at reducing the spread of disease.
In many countries in Asia, wearing masks or face coverings has been socially acceptable for quite some time. But here in the US, wearing masks out in public is a recent invention that has only been around for around a month or so.
So resistance is only natural.
But there is new data coming out that shows wearing a mask could drastically cut down on the transmission of viruses. And the best part is that you don’t have to completely shut down everything for those masks to be effective, if Japan is any indicator.
If you compare the death rate between the US and Japan, it is clear that Japan is doing much better than the US. The total deaths in the US has surpassed 76,000 while in Japan they were just at 577. And if you account for the fact that Japan has a population about 38% the size of the US, you can see that their death rate is still only 2% of that in the US.
What’s interesting is that Japan has reportedly not issued massive lockdowns, still has active public transportation like subways, and many businesses have remained open. Social distancing is in effect but Japan is not even implementing widespread contact tracing, which is when countries track down all individuals that may have come into contact with an infected person.
So you might be wondering how Japan has been so successful.
Well recent research from De Kai, an American computer scientist with joint appointments at UC Berkeley’s International Computer Science Institute and at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, suggests that it is because nearly everyone is wearing a mask.
De Kai Is the architect of a new in-depth study that will be released in the coming days that lays out the science for why everyone should be wearing a mask.
The study has a number of findings but one of them that stick out is that if 80% of a closed population were to wear a mask then infection rates would drop approximately 1/12 compared to a population where no one wears masks.
The study used very sophisticated computer forecasting modeling that took all sorts of different variables and circumstances into consideration including randomness and unpredictability, effectiveness of different types of masks, all with the help of artificial intelligence. It’s thought to be one of the most thorough studies conducted on the topic.
Obviously, every model is only as good as its assumptions. But based on the data, including what has happened in Japan, it seems like wearing masks will be key to allowing societies to re-open again without major risk of virus spread.
We’ve already seen discussions about mask requirements for re-opening up places like Disney and now many airlines are requiring masks for all passengers. Some cities have even implemented mask requirements as have certain businesses.
I think as more details of this study and other similar studies are revealed, we will see just how beneficial wearing them can be.
If we can continue to practice some basic level of social distancing and hygiene practices like regular hand sanitation, I think we can begin to get a little bit more comfortable with certain places opening up.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.