Masks can help slow the virus’ spread. Simulating spread, Mokdad and colleagues previously predicted that COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths would decline over the summer, but rebound in the fall and winter (SN: 4/23/21). That rebound will start sooner, probably about mid-August, if people aren’t wearing masks and vaccine hesitancy remains at current levels, Mokdad says.
Cases will go up and mortality will go up,” he says. It won’t be as severe as last winter’s surge thanks to vaccination, but deaths could peak at more than 2,000 a day. That compares with a peak of 500 deaths a day if mask-wearing is high.
Mokdad is fully vaccinated but continues to wear a mask when around people outside of his household. Some people have charged that vaccinated people who continue to mask up are signaling that vaccines don’t work, but that’s not how Mokdad sees it. “I trust the vaccines,” he says. “I don’t trust the virus. This virus is so opportunistic.”
Ali Mokdad, is a public health researcher at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle