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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

Broader Mask-Wearing May be More Effective than Vaccine in Lowering Death Toll, New Data Projects

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Xavier Donat (xdonat@gmail.com)
Creative Commons/Flickr
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projects mask-wearing is embraced by 76% of Ohioans. The global average is around 62% of the public.

As Ohio continues with the first phase of its vaccination plan, recent data analysis from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation suggests universal mask-wearing may have a bigger impact in lowering the state’s death toll.

The research center estimates the vaccine will have saved around 330 lives in Ohio by next March but much broader mask-wearing could potentially save even more lives—more than 1,200 in the same period.

Michael Anguillano III of the Kent City Health Department said this is, in part, due to the limited supply of vaccines that will be available to the public over the next several months.

Michael Anguillano III on vaccine data

“The next round of vaccines, you know, is not going to drop until April. By March we will still be wearing masks. There will still be a limit on gatherings," Anguillano said. "It's not going to be till May, June when a lot of the vaccine gets rolled out—there is more people taking the vaccine, there is more people who are distributing it. We need to continue to buckle down and adhere to these public health guidelines.”

Anguillano said another difficulty surrounding the vaccination process is people’s hesitancy to take it.

A recent USA Today survey finds that 20% of respondents are against getting the vaccine, while an additional 32% are hesitant.