State Watch

Mask mandate in Kansas helped slow the spread of COVID-19, CDC research finds


The mask mandate issued by the Kansas governor over the summer facilitated a decrease in coronavirus cases, a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday found. 

While the CDC already knew that masks help reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus strain that causes COVID-19, the agency reported Friday that the 24 Kansas counties that complied with the July 2 executive order from Gov. Laura Kelly (D) had a net 6 percent decrease in the seven-day average of daily reported coronavirus infections by Aug. 23. 

Meanwhile, the 81 counties that opted out of the mandate experienced a net 100 percent increase in the weekly average of cases, according to the CDC. 

“The decrease in cases among mandated counties and the continued increase in cases in nonmandated counties adds to the evidence supporting the importance of wearing masks and implementing policies requiring their use to mitigate the spread of SARS-CoV-2,” the CDC wrote in its report Friday. 

The agency added that “community-level mitigation strategies emphasizing wearing masks, maintaining physical distance, staying at home when ill, and enhancing hygiene practices can help reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2.”

The CDC had previously said that wearing a mask could protect others from respiratory droplets, and earlier this month, the CDC announced that research indicated masks could also protect the wearer by filtering incoming droplets. 

Friday’s report comes after Kelly issued a new statewide mask mandate Wednesday amid a recent surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. 

The order, which goes into effect the day before Thanksgiving, requires face coverings to be worn in public spaces, in health care facilities, in line for public transportation and outdoors where social distancing is not possible. 

Kelly said during a press conference Wednesday that “a one-size-fits-all approach can be difficult for some communities to navigate,” so she is allowing counties a week to develop their own orders for face coverings. 

“We have reached a new stage in our fight with this virus and how we choose to respond could turn the tide for our businesses, our hospitals and our schools,” she said at the time. 

As was the case with the July order, Wednesday’s order has already received pushback from some in the state. 

On Wednesday, NBC affiliate KSHB reported that 18 businesses in Johnson County have received noncompliance complaints regarding pandemic safety measures, with one, Don Chilito’s Mexican restaurant, standing firmly against mask mandates

As of Friday, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment has recorded a total of 134,533 confirmed coronavirus cases as well as 1,410 fatalities and 4,682 hospitalizations as a result of the virus.

Tags Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; CDC coronavirus cases coronavirus covid-19 coronavirus hospitalizations coronavirus surge COVID-19 pandemic in Kansas Kansas Laura Kelly mask mandate SARS-CoV-2

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