Story at a glance
- A study from Arizona reveals that new COVID-19 cases dropped substantially with the adoption of masks.
- Cases also dropped after public events were limited and bars, gyms and movie theaters were closed.
Evidence is growing on the preventative benefits of public health protocols against the coronavirus, such as social distancing and wearing facial masks, with a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlighting that widespread enforcement of health protocols resulted in a substantial decrease in new cases.
Officials from the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) studied the number of daily COVID-19 cases and seven-day averages from January to August following imposition of and the lifting of stay-at-home orders in the state.
With the reopening of social spaces and economic sectors, ADHS officials reported a 151 percent increase in the number of daily cases, rising from 808 on June 1 to 2,026 on June 15.
On June 17, state officials began enforcing mask-wearing in select cities and counties, impacting about 85 percent of the population. Public events were limited, and spaces like bars, gyms, and movie theaters were closed once again. Restaurants operated at a limited capacity.
By early July, new cases began stabilizing, and during July 13 to August 7, new daily cases fell by approximately 75 percent.
“Widespread implementation and enforcement of sustained community mitigation measures informed by state and local officials’ continual data monitoring and collaboration can help prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and decrease the numbers of COVID-19 cases,” the report read. It also noted that the combination of voluntary and enforceable public health measures worked better at preventing transmission than a single measure.
The report notes that the data in Arizona may not be representative of other U.S. states. Regardless, it concludes that enhanced mitigation measures should be implemented within communities, especially prior to the availability of a vaccine.