In a letter to Congress, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Pasadena) and Ro Khanna (D-Santa Clara) asked for the inclusion of mask-related provisions in an upcoming health and economic legislative package responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As states across the country experience a worrying climb in COVID-19 infection rates, it’s time to take masks seriously as one of the most effective interventions we have against the virus,” the letter reads. “We respectfully request the inclusion of these mask-related provisions in the upcoming coronavirus relief package and stand ready to work with you.”
The letter calls on Congress to provide for the mass distribution of free facial coverings to all Americans, funding for a public service announcement campaign encouraging mask usage, and research into mask efficacy and optimal design.
Numerous studies have found clear and convincing evidence that masks reduce the transmission of the virus substantially, which is vitally important when many infectious carriers are either asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic.
New studies also suggest that masks may reduce the severity of disease for those that become infected by decreasing viral load. In addition to the health benefits, one recent economic analysis estimated that universal masking could save 5 percent of GDP, or $1 trillion, by making lockdowns unnecessary and getting people back to work earlier.
“While nothing short of a vaccine or a cure can truly end the threat of this virus, we must aggressively pursue simple and affordable courses of action that can mitigate infections and save tens of thousands of lives,” the letter continued. “Relative to the billions of dollars that we spent on critical steps like testing and contact tracing and the trillions that we spent on economic relief, masks are a low-cost intervention.”