A recent national study support evidences that mask laws can help slow the spread of the coronavirus and that encouraging people to eat at restaurants can lead to more cases and deaths.
The report was published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House briefing on Friday that “all is very consistent.” “When you wear masks, you have less cases and deaths, and when you eat at a restaurant in person, you have more cases and deaths.”
The study was released at a time when some states are repealing mask laws and restricting the number of restaurants where people can smoke. Despite appeals from health officials, Texas became the largest state to lift its mask law earlier this week, joining a push by several governors to relax Covid-19 restrictions.
“It’s a good piece of work that makes the case very clearly that in-person dining is one of the most important items that needs to be handled if you’re going to contain the pandemic,” said William Hanage, a Harvard University disease dynamics specialist who was not involved in the research.
The new study builds on smaller CDC reports, such as one that found that infected people in ten states were more likely to have eaten at a restaurant in July, and another that found mask compulsions in ten states were related to fewer hospitalizations. The CDC looked at counties in the United States that had state-issued mask mandates and counties that permitted restaurant dining — both indoors and outdoors at tables. The research observed at data from March to December of the preceding year.
Mask laws were related to lower coronavirus transmission, and improvements in new cases and deaths improved over time, according to the researchers. Growth rates were reduced by half a percentage point to nearly two percentage points. While this may seem unimportant, experts say that because of the vast number of people involved, the effect increases over time.
In the first 40 days after the controls were lifted, there was no substantial rise in the number of cases or deaths. However, after that, the growth rate of cases increased by around 1%, and the growth rate of deaths increased by 2 to 3 percentage points.
There were some drawbacks to the research. For example, the researchers attempted to make predictions that took into account other policies that could affect case and death rates, such as bans on large gatherings or bar closures. However, the writers admitted that they couldn’t account for all potential factors, such as school reopening.