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- A Friday report from the Centers for Disease Control found that counties in Kansas that adopted a mask mandate saw a decrease in cases of the disease, while counties that opted out saw an increase by 100%.
- While experts have long agreed that masks are a key part of limiting the spread of COVID-19, their usage has been the subject of months-long political debate.
- According to the CDC, the findings back up similar declines seen in 15 states and in Washington DC, which also mandated masks.
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A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Friday found that counties in Kansas that adopted a mask mandate saw a decrease in COVID-19 transmission compared to counties that did not, which saw an increase in the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, on July 3 issued a statewide mask mandate, but counties were able to individually opt-out from her order. Around 90 counties opted out of her according to a July 8 report from the Wichita Eagle.
According to the CDC report, following the issuing of the opt-out mandate, COVID-19 incidence decreased in 24 counties with mask mandates but increased in 81 counties that opted out of the order. Researchers with the CDC and the Kansas Department of Health found COVID-19 incidence decreased by 6% in counties with a mandate compared to an increase of 100% in counties where masks were not mandated.
The findings back up similar declines seen in 15 states and in Washington DC, which mandated masks, compared to states that did not have mask mandates, the CDC noted.
Kelly on Wednesday announced a new mask mandate, effective next week, which requires masks in public spaces, health care facilities, public transportation lines, and outdoor spaces where social distancing is not possible, The Hill reported. Kelly is also planning a public information campaign to encourage mask usage in the state, she said.
According to data analyzed by Johns Hopkins University, there have been 136,861 confirmed cases of the disease throughout the state of Kansas, which have resulted in at least 1,306 deaths. Over the past week, more than 35% of tests administered have come back positive, which is more than three times higher than the 10% rate nationally.
The CDC report echos months-long pleas from medical experts and the science community, which have urged the widespread adoption of face masks to stem the spread of COVID-19. President Donald Trump and many of his Republican allies have opposed mask mandates, arguing their use should be left up to individuals, leading to frequent clashes between Democrats and Republicans and dicey public confrontations between US citizens.
President-elect Joe Biden has said he would consider implementing a nationwide mask mandate as part of his COVID-19 mitigation strategy, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in October said he endorsed a mask mandate.
“There’s going to be a difficulty enforcing it, but if everyone agrees that this is something that’s important and they mandate it and everybody pulls together and says, you know, we’re going to mandate it but let’s just do it, I think that would be a great idea to have everybody do it uniformly,” he said during an appearance on CNN.