• Despite viral moments and confrontations around the country over the rules around coronavirus face masks, evidence continues to mount that a face mask is a robust tool for curbing the spread of COVID-19.
  • The state of Kansas offers a good test case for why face masks are so important during the pandemic.
  • The 15 counties in Kansas with face mask mandates have seen much greater declines in coronavirus cases than those counties without a mandate.

Sadly, ignorance over the importance of wearing face masks during the coronavirus pandemic has sparked a number of confrontations in recent days, such as in New Jersey earlier this month when a woman assaulted a Staples customer after being asked to wear her face mask properly. Likewise, a confrontation in Pennsylvania led to a cigar shop employee being shot after he’d asked a customer to wear a face mask.

Against this backdrop, the state of Illinois has now made it a felony to assault a worker who’s trying to enforce public health guidance like face mask policies. And in Kansas, the data is in that makes it crystal clear the effect that wearing a face mask can have on the spread of the coronavirus.

According to local media in Kansas, there are 15 counties in the state that have mandatory face mark orders, and they’ve seen a much bigger decline in the number of coronavirus cases than what the state’s other 90 counties that don’t have a face mask requirement have been confronted with.

The Kansas City Star, for example, reports that since July 12, “not long after counties were given the option of accepting or rejecting Gov. Laura Kelly’s mask mandate, those with mask orders have seen cases decline from about 26 to 16 per 100,000 population.” At the same time, however, Kansas counties that have no mask mandate have seen their number of cases stay “relatively flat.”

Local officials have been touting the clear trend lines in Kansas as definitive proof, in case anyone was still looking for such, that face masks are an effective curb on the spread of the coronavirus. The decline in coronavirus cases in the counties with face mask mandates, for example, “comes from those wearing masks,” Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Dr. Lee Norman said during a press conference in recent days.

Likewise, Dr. Sanmi Areola, director of the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment, told The Kansas City Star that “masks work” and that Johnson County has gone “from a high of 116 cases per day the week of July 12 to 90 cases per day last week.”

“That is encouraging to us,” Dr. K. Allen Greiner, medical officer for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas Health Department, told county leaders recently, per the Star. “We think it’s a major way we can control all this.”

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.