Health

Public health researchers at the University of Louisville say increased mask-wearing will be essential to containing coronavirus.

Dr. Seyed Karimi said Tuesday during a news conference with city officials that if more people wear masks, that will help prevent hospitalizations and deaths in Louisville from spiking.

Projections through September published last week by Karimi and his team show that a continued mask mandate, increase in mask-wearing and limited mobility would keep hospitalizations next month to about 70 at a time, what he described as a manageable number. That best case scenario projection also projects the city’s death toll would reach 270 by mid-September.

In contrast, ending the mask mandate, a lesser increase in mask usage and higher mobility could lead to 350 active hospitalizations and 400 total deaths, researchers projected.

“These are very optimistic scenarios. We are assuming in all of our scenarios that there is going to be 10% or 20% take-up, or increase in mask-wearing,” Karimi said. “If we don’t do it, the rates are going to be way higher.”

Mayor Greg Fischer continued to encourage people to wear masks properly, covering their noses and mouths, while in public indoors or outdoors when social distancing is not possible.

“In order to bring our numbers down and keep them down, we all have to be diligent about wearing mask, and that just has got to be as second-nature to you as going out of your house with your clothes on,” Fischer said.

He reported 122 new cases of COVID-19 in the city as of Tuesday, bringing the total to 7,343. He also announced three new deaths related to the disease. Louisville’s coronavirus death toll is now 251.

Fischer also said an additional 54 people had recovered, for a total of 4,682.

Amina Elahi is WFPL's City Reporter.