Dr. Ali Mokdad says mask wearing could save 130,000 lives from coronavirus

Epidemiologist Dr. Ali Mokdad is advising people across the U.S. “to be very careful” and “to change our behaviors” as the nation heads toward winter, the worst season for viral transmission.

Mokdad’s research estimates America could see more than 500,000 total deaths from Covid-19 by the end of February, more than double the current toll, if states continue to ease coronavirus restrictions.

However, the research estimates that nearly 130,000 lives could be saved if 95% of the population wears masks. Mokdad’s study was published in the journal Nature Medicine.

“We want to give a chance for public health and for people to help each other by wearing a mask in order to not overwhelm our hospitals and ICUs,” Mokdad told “The News with Shepard Smith” on Friday. Mokdad teaches at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

The U.S. reported a record number of more than 83,700 new daily Covid-19 cases on Friday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The previous all-time high of roughly 77,300 new infections happened on July 16. The U.S. has reported more than 8.5 million total coronavirus cases and over 224,000 deaths.

“Looking at the relationship of the variables such as masks, mobility, and testing — and knowing what we’ve seen in the Southern Hemisphere, that the cases increased in winter even with all the measures they put in place — Covid-19 is seasonal,” said Mokdad. “Unfortunately in December and January, we’ll see a rise in cases and then deaths.”

However, Mokdad said making lifestyle changes can mitigate the spread.

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