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Mandating Masks Linked to Drop in COVID-19 Cases, Deaths

TUESDAY, March 9, 2021 -- Implementing mask mandates is associated with a reduction in COVID-19 cases and deaths, while on-premises dining at restaurants is associated with increased COVID-19 cases and deaths after 40 days, according to research published in the March 5 early-release issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Gery P. Guy Jr., Ph.D., from the CDC COVID-19 Response Team, and colleagues examined the correlation of state-issued mask mandates and allowing on-premises dining at restaurants with county-level COVID-19 cases and deaths during March 1 to Dec. 31, 2020.

The researchers found that at one to 20, 21 to 40, 41 to 60, 61 to 80, and 81 to 100 days after implementation, mask mandates were associated with decreases in daily COVID-19 cases and death growth rates. Increases in daily COVID-19 case growth rates were seen at 41 to 60, 61 to 80, and 81 to 100 days after allowing any on-premises dining at restaurants, and increases in daily COVID-19 death growth rates were seen at 61 to 80 and 81 to 100 days after reopening.

"Mask mandates were associated with reductions in COVID-19 case and death growth rates within 20 days, whereas allowing on-premises dining at restaurants was associated with increases in COVID-19 case and death growth rates after 40 days," the authors write. "With the emergence of more transmissible COVID-19 variants, community mitigation measures are increasingly important as part of a larger strategy to decrease exposure to and reduce transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2."

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