New state-by-state analysis shows statistical association between high mask adherence and reduced rates of COVID-19 in the United States Charlie Fischer and colleagues at the Boston University School of Public Health in Massachusetts present these results in free newspaper access PLOS ONE April 14.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, different states have adopted different policies on mask wearing, with some states not having mask requirements and others requiring masks in all public spaces. Understanding the link between mask wear and COVID-19 rates could help inform policies aimed at alleviating stress on health systems, economic instability and death.
To help clarify the effects of wearing a mask, Fischer and his colleagues examined publicly available data on mask-wearing policies, people’s self-reported mask-wearing habits in public, and COVID-19 rates for the 50 US states and Washington, DC. a one-month delay between wearing the mask and its subsequent potential impact on COVID-19 rates from May to October 2020. For this analysis, they considered the rates of over 200 cases per 100,000 population to be high .
The analysis showed that out of 15 states that did not require people to wear masks in public, 14 had high rates of COVID-19. Meanwhile, eight states had self-reported compliance rates of 75% or more, and none of those states had high rates of COVID-19. States with the lowest compliance rates had the greatest likelihood of high COVID-19 rates the following month.
The eight states with at least 75% mask adhesion had an average COVID-19 rate of 109.26 per 100,000 population the following month, while the average COVID-19 rate was 239.99 for States with less than 75% compliance.
These findings provide new evidence to support mask wear as a major factor contributing to the reduction in COVID-19 rates. They suggest that policies and public health efforts aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19 should include a focus on improving mask adherence across the United States.
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