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Study: Counties without mask mandates have much higher hospitalizations

Study: Counties without mask mandates have much higher hospitalizations
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A new study finds that coronavirus hospitalizations increased significantly more in areas without mask requirements, bolstering guidance from public health officials on the importance of wearing facial coverings to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The study by Vanderbilt University compared Tennessee counties with mask requirements to those without any.

Hospitals where less than 25 percent of the patients came from counties with mask requirements had the largest increase in coronavirus hospitalizations, up more than 200 percent since July 1, the study found. In hospitals where more than 75 percent of the patients came from counties with a mask requirement, hospitalizations were about flat compared to July 1.

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“It’s very clear that areas where masking requirements have remained in place have seen much lower growth in COVID-19 hospitalizations,” said John Graves, one of the authors of the study and an associate professor of health policy at Vanderbilt.

The study notes that masks alone likely do not explain the entire difference in hospitalizations between counties, given that places with mask requirements have also seen people being less mobile and taking other precautions.

Masks are also not a “silver bullet,” the study states, noting that even areas with mask requirements have seen an uptick in hospitalizations since early October.

Still, facial coverings are widely seen by health experts as one of the least burdensome ways to slow the spread of the virus, as cases and hospitalizations increase heading into winter.

President TrumpDonald TrumpSenators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House Georgia secretary of state withholds support for 'reactionary' GOP voting bills MORE has often mocked the idea of wearing a mask and has rarely worn one in public. Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenKlain on Manchin's objection to Neera Tanden: He 'doesn't answer to us at the White House' Senators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Overnight Defense: New Senate Armed Services chairman talks Pentagon policy nominee, Afghanistan, more | Biden reads report on Khashoggi killing | Austin stresses vaccine safety in new video MORE says that as president he would emphasize wearing a mask and urge every governor to impose a mask mandate.

The Vanderbilt study also found that the number of people going to bars and restaurants tracked more closely with rates of infection, rather than with business restrictions imposed by the government, indicating that “the best way to manage the economic fallout is to definitively manage the virus.”