• Coronavirus cases are spiking across the US right now, a trend that was the subject of congressional testimony on Tuesday from prominent public health experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci.
  • This trend is why we’re starting to see face mask mandates be imposed in cities and states around the country.
  • States like Florida, Arizona, California, and others are forcing residents to wear face masks whenever they’re in public to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

“We’ve been hit badly.”

That’s how Dr. Anthony Fauci, who serves as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, described the current state of the coronavirus crisis facing the US during congressional testimony Tuesday, as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the US topped 2.3 million. “That’s something I’m really quite concerned about,” Fauci told congressional leaders. “And you know that. This is something that’s been in the press over the past couple of days. We were going down from 30,000 (new cases per day) to 25,000 to 20,000, and then we sort of stayed kind of flat, but now we’re going up. A couple of days ago there were 30,000 new infections. That’s very troublesome to me.”

Instead of feeling helpless in the face of these numbers, though, a recent study from Health Affairs provides some hope and suggests at least one actionable step that people can take to keep themselves safe from the virus. According to the study, 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. And by reviewing 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, as well as DC, that required people to wear masks.

This is why we’re starting to see new mandates that people must wear face masks in public in cities and states around the country — in places like Florida, Arizona, California, and Michigan. According to a CNN map, in fact, at least 15 states and DC now have mandatory face mask orders, following up on guidelines issued by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from back in April saying that everyone should wear a face mask in public.

Cities that have issued face mask mandates of their own include several around Florida, which is seeing a big resurgence in coronavirus cases. Those cities include Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Tampa, St. Petersburg, and the Florida Keys. No surprise, considering that over the weekend Florida recorded 4,049 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, which was the state’s fourth one-day record over the past week.

Other cities in states like Texas and Arizona are following suit and adding face mask requirements. Face masks, again, being one of the few protections we have against a virus that’s responsible for more than 120,000 reported deaths in the US, according to the latest numbers from Johns Hopkins University.

Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.