- A new study has found that the US states which mandate the use of face masks in public have seen a greater decline in the number of coronavirus cases than those that don’t.
- According to the study, up to 450,000 COVID-19 cases may have been averted by face mask use.
- Many of the states where infections are currently spiking don’t have any rules about face masks.
No one wants to wear a face mask. They’re uncomfortable, they make it hard to breathe, they’re not especially stylish, and you might accidentally rip out your headphones while attempting to take them off. Ok, the last issue might just be me. Regardless, we can all agree that face masks are not an enjoyable addition to our wardrobes, but a mountain of evidence has made it increasingly clear that they are making a difference during the pandemic.
According to a new study from Health Affairs, states that have required their residents to wear face masks have seen a greater decline in the growth rate of coronavirus than those that have not. Having reviewed state orders and public data sets between April 1st and May 21st, the study estimate that between 230,000 and 450,000 COVID-19 cases may have been averted in the 15 states (plus DC) that required people to wear masks.
“Our study provides evidence that states in the US mandating use of face masks in public had a greater decline in daily COVID-19 growth rates after issuing these mandates compared to states that did not issue mandates,” said the authors of the study in a conclusion which you can find here. “As countries worldwide and states begin to relax social distancing restrictions and considering the possibility of a second COVID-19 wave in the fall/winter, requiring use of face masks in public might help in reducing COVID-19 spread.”
Almost no one wants to wear a mask, and even fewer people want to be told they have to wear a mask, but with each passing week, more evidence arises suggesting that the simple act of covering your mouth and nose when you’re out in public can have a drastic effect on the transmission rate of the virus.
Also, it’s not enough to ask just a portion of the population to wear masks. Some states had mandates specifically for employees in settings where they might be interacting with customers or coworkers in close proximity. But according to the study, there is “no evidence of declines in daily COVID-19 growth rates with the employee-only mandates.” In order for face masks to make a real difference, everyone has to be on board.
Social distancing, good hygiene, and making smart decisions are all still vital to mitigating the spread of the virus, but masks need to be a priority in more states. In Florida and Texas, where the infection rate is currently spiking, there are no rules about masks. Florida physicians are now urging Governor Ron DeSantis to mandate face masks. Meanwhile, back in April, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed an executive order banning local governments from imposing fines or criminal penalties on anyone who decided not to wear a mask in public. Would you believe me if I told you Texas reported its highest number of cases since the pandemic began in March yesterday?