CDC research shows Kansas mask mandates help slow spread of COVID-19

Published: Nov. 20, 2020 at 4:29 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published research showing that Kansas mask mandates have helped slow the spread of COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on Friday, showing that trends in Kansas counties with mask mandates have a slower rate of infection than those that do not.

According to the report, Governor Laura Kelly issued an executive order requiring facial coverings in public spaces on July 3, and only 24 counties opted into or made their own mask mandate by Aug. 11. It said 81 counties opted out of the mandate, which was permitted by state law.

The report said that after Gov. Kelly’s order, COVID-19 incidence decreased in counties that did opt into the mandate by 6%, but continued to increase in those without by 100%. It said this adds to evidence supporting the importance of wearing masks and requiring their use to slow the spread of the virus. It said that community-level strategies that emphasize mask usage, maintaining social distancing, staying home when ill and enhancing hygiene practices can help reduce the transmission of the virus.

According to the report, the Kansas mask mandate went into effect on July 3. It said that a state law that was implemented on June 9, authorized counties to issue their own public health orders that are less strict than Gov. Kelly’s, allowing them to opt-out completely.

The report said that the study looked at counties that did have a mask mandate as of Aug. 11 and compared them to those that did not. It said the daily county-level COVID-19 incidence was calculated using case and population counts and rates were calculated as seven-day rolling averages. It said it also compared counties to themselves over time, in order to establish control characteristics.

According to the report, after the implementation of mask mandates in 24 Kansas counties, the increasing trend of COVID-19 cases reversed. It said while rates were higher in counties that had mask mandates by July 3, these rates declined drastically after mandates were implemented compared to the rates of nonmandated counties. It said this shows that the usage of masks helped slow the spread of COVID-19 in counties with mask mandates.

The report also says this data is consistent with 15 other states and the District of Columbia, which mandated masks, compared to states that did not. It said Arizona also implemented a mask requirement and saw the stabilization of COVID-19 case rates and a case decrease following community-level mitigation strategies like limitations on public events, enhanced sanitization practices and closures of certain services or businesses.

According to the report, the decrease of COVID-19 cases in mask mandated counties in Kansas happened while the only other state mandates focused on mitigation strategies for schools as they reopened. It said in at least 54% of the counties that mandated masks, other county-level strategies accompanied the mandates, like limits on gathering sizes and occupancy for restaurants. It said while implementing multiple mitigation strategies is the recommended approach, strategies related to the mask mandates were just as important.

The report said that while testing data in Kansas counties increased during the study, decreases in COVID-19 incidence were still seen in counties with mask mandates. It said that masks have been proven to be an important measure to slow the spread of the virus as shown by the counties that did implement mask mandates. It said community level mitigation strategies that emphasize the use of masks, social distancing, staying home when ill and enhanced hygiene practices have all been proven to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

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