NEWS RELEASE                                                                                     June 2020

Should we Invest in HEPA Filters and Efficient Masks for the Public?

The Coronavirus Technology Solutions  proposed for the U.S. will cost tens of billion dollars per year. If 200 million people wear N95 quality masks this cost alone could be $20 billion per year. HEPA filtration and laminar air flow, decontamination of spaces and other technology could raise annual costs to $100 billion per year. If these measures save 30,000 lives per year the investment would be justified. EPA uses $10 million per life in determining the value of regulations. So on this basis the cost saved would be $300 billion per year.

In an earlier webinar McIlvaine analyzed the cost of COVID to include not only the deaths but the hospitalizations and impact on the economy and arrived at $50 million per death. So with this cost an investment of $1.5 trillion per year could be justified.

It is desirable to see how much is spent to reduce other risks.

The population motor-vehicle death rate reached its peak in 1937 with 30.8 deaths per 100,000 population. The current rate is 12.0 per 100,000, representing a 61% improvement. With 150,000 deaths from COVID in 2020 the U.S. would reach 50 deaths per thousand.  If we revert to the safety standards of the 1930s there would be at least 120,000 deaths in the U.S. We  appear willing to deal with an extra 10,000 deaths per year for the time saved to travel at 65 mph.

There is no assurance that a vaccine will be in place and be effective in the next two years. There are predictions without vaccines as much as 60 percent of the population will contract the disease. By year end there are likely to be 3 million cases registered in the U.S. but possibly there are ten times that number who are unreported. This means that only a maximum of ten percent of the population will be have been exposed to the disease at the end of 2020. There could be six more years with 150,000 deaths per year before herd immunity is achieved.


Public water in the U.S is quite reliable. However the experience in Flint Michigan shows what happens if we lower the standards.  Billions of dollars is spent for bottled water but there is little evidence that lives are saved.

Air pollution deaths  in the U.S due to air pollution are pegged at over 100,000 per year. However, these are mainly older people. Therefore the life years per death lost is less than from COVID or from automobile accidents. Nevertheless the numbers are significant. They are much more significant in many Asian countries where air pollution levels are many times greater than in the average U.S. city.

An advantage of N95 masks for everyone would be a reduction in air pollution deaths as well as from COVID. There are close to 100,000 hospital acquired infection deaths per year in the U.S.   It is likely that several thousand lives per year could be saved if visitors and personnel wear N95 masks.


The graph shows that COVID and air pollution have the biggest potential for death reduction.  COVID represents a risk far greater than the annual flu or even driving at 65 mph. The Coronavirus Technology Solutions will therefore be both important cost effective.

For more information on Coronavirus Technology Solutions click on

Bob McIlvaine can answer your questions at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and 847 226 2391