Dr. Norman shows differences between mask mandated and non-mandated counties

Published: Aug. 5, 2020 at 9:38 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Dr. Lee Norman showcased a graph at his news conference showing counties opting in on a mask mandate are seeing positive signs battling COVID-19.

Norman showed a chart that plotted the difference between counties requiring masks and those that don't since July 13.

"What we've seen through this is that the counties with no mask mandate, there's been no decrease in the number of cases per capita."

The 90 counties without mask requirements are shown in blue and they tend to be more rural. The 15 counties with mandates are shown in red. Norman said they tend to be more urban, comprising two-thirds of Kansas' population. "So, I think that it doesn't take a lot of convincing that this slope of a line going this direction represents improvement."

Urban areas naturally put people in closer physical proximity, with things like public transit. All of which should make their trend line go up. “These are the ones that would include things like Wyandotte, Johnson, Sedgwick, Shawnee and the like, tend to have more ethnic and racial minorities,” said Norman. “Those are populations of people that have a higher attack rate, that are more likely i.e. to be infected by the COVID-19 virus and are more likely to have an unfavorable outcome.”

But, Norman said Kansas is a natural experiment and it is showing the impact of having, or not having, a mask mandate. “Some counties have been the controlled group with no masks and some have been experimental group with masks are worn and the experimental group is winning the battle. All of the improvement in the case development comes from those counties wearing masks,” he said.

Governor Laura Kelly signed a statewide mask order in early July, but counties are allowed to opt out of it. Norman said they’ll continue to study patterns in where new cases are developing.

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