November 20, 2020


When states mandate masks, fewer people catch COVID-19 (pOPULAR sCIENCE, 11/20/20)

[R]esearch shows that mask mandates have great returns for public health. A paper published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine last month found within an eight-week period, that states that reopened without a mask policy had 10 times the number of excess COVID-19 cases than states that reopened with one. (Excess values were calculated by taking the observed number of cases among 100,000 residents in each state and subtracting it from the predicted number of cases both before and after reopening.) What's more, the 13 states with mandates tallied 50,000 fewer excess deaths in a six-week span. Another analysis, published in Health Affairs in June, estimates that mask rules in 15 states and Washington D.C. prevented more than 200,000 COVID-19 cases this spring.

The effect of mandates in curbing COVID-19 infections is especially apparent in Kansas, where Gov. Laura Kelly issued an executive order requiring masks in public in early July--but still gave counties the option to set their own laws. In the 81 counties that chose not to require masks, daily COVID-19 cases showed an increase of 100 percent by mid-August, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the 24 counties that did, daily cases dipped by 6 percent.

If the US enforces universal masking, the country could avert 65,000 deaths by March 1, 2021, as per a model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. The number of new daily infections would almost immediately begin to decline. But to see those benefits, 95 percent of the country's population would have to wear a mask at all times in public. The number is currently closer to 68 percent, IHME states.

"More is better when it comes to mask wearing, but some is better than none," Brewer says. "It's never too late, particularly when things are getting worse."

Posted by at November 20, 2020 6:05 PM