U.S. governors have imposed state and regional mask mandates that have been in effect for months in 32 states and Puerto Rico where coronavirus infections have reached record-high numbers and were still rising as of the end of Wednesday during the ongoing fall surge, according to a Breitbart News analysis.
Still, mask-mandate supporters argue that the infection records would be higher still if not for widespread mask use.
Democrat candidate Joe Biden and his supporter Dr. Anthony Fauci have indicated they are open to mask mandates to stem the novel coronavirus’s spread. Biden hopes Fauci will serve in his administration.
Except for Hawaii, all 50 states are seeing a significant rise in cases and an increase in hospitalizations to a lesser extent despite having some sort of mask mandate.
Governors in 36 states have enacted statewide face-covering orders. Meanwhile, local officials have implemented mask mandates in several jurisdictions in the remaining 14 states.
Utah, North Dakota, and Iowa each adopted statewide mask edicts this month. Only in Hawaii, which also has a statewide face-covering order, have infections been going down in recent days.
This article primarily focuses on the rise in infections in states with statewide mask mandates in effect for over a month. That leaves only 32, after excluding Utah, North Dakota, Iowa, and Hawaii.
In recent days, the seven-day average number of new daily cases were still rising in Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and the 35 (of 36) states that had implemented statewide mask mandates. There has also been an uptick in the infections in the 14 states that have regional face-covering orders for some areas.
The data suggests the infections are going up regardless of the mandates. However, some researchers, including at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have indicated that the effectiveness of mask mandates is conditional on compliance of other enacted mitigation measures such as social distancing. Still, some researchers have conceded that compliance is nearly impossible to assess.
In recent days, 32 states (and Puerto Rico) with statewide mandates in effect for over a month, and nine states with regional mask orders, saw their already rising average of new daily infections reach unprecedented levels.
The other three states (and D.C.) with statewide masks, and the remaining five with regional mandates, saw more modest increases as of Sunday that remained below peak levels from earlier in the year.
Despite mask mandates across the United States, America recorded the highest number of cases in a single day on Friday (170,792), data maintained by the COVID Tracking Project showed via Twitter:
Our daily update is published. States reported a record 1.7 million tests, 170k cases, and 69k current COVID-19 hospitalizations. The death toll was 1,301. pic.twitter.com/P11appz1Uj
— The COVID Tracking Project (@COVID19Tracking) November 13, 2020
Several studies conducted earlier this year, including research published by the Health Affairs peer-reviewed journal, found that the mandates resulted in a drop in infections and hospitalizations. Health Affairs noted that the mandates’ effects are conditional on the other enacted social distancing measures and compliance. Researchers learned that compliance is nearly impossible to assess.
Peer-reviewed research published by MIT News and others even predicted that thousands of lives could have been saved if the U.S. would have implemented such orders sooner. Yet, several countries in Europe that instituted mask mandates are now facing a spike in infections and, to a lesser extent, deaths, forcing some to reimpose lockdowns.
The CDC, however, recommends universal community masking in addition to social distancing.
Last week, the CDC reported that masks also protect the wearer, not just the people around them.
“Adopting universal masking policies can help avert future lockdowns, especially if combined with other non-pharmaceutical interventions such as social distancing, hand hygiene, and adequate ventilation,” it added.
Several states seeing a record number of infections despite mask mandates — namely Maine, West Virginia, and Ohio — strengthened their mandates last week. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine warned of a possible lockdown if residents did not follow his mask order, noting on Twitter:
Do not close anything! It makes no difference! If masks work so well then why are we seeing a big surge?! Masks make no difference either!
— Jeffrey Schultz (@jeff_osu) November 11, 2020
In addition to the U.S. jurisdiction of Puerto Rico, the following 31 states had reported record-high number of infections that were still increasing as of Tuesday despite their statewide mask mandates: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
For the most part, infections were increasing at a lower rate and remained close but below peak levels from earlier this year in D.C. and most of these other four other states with statewide mandates: California, Louisiana, New York, and Texas. New York was the only state with the average number of daily cases way below peak levels.
Of all 50 states, Hawaii was the only state that has seen a small drop in the seven-day average number of new daily cases in recent days.
In total, there are 36 states with statewide mask mandates, including 32 with orders for more than a year that have reported an above peak number of infections in recent days, and only one that saw a modest drop.
The nine states with regional mask edicts that saw a record number of infections in recent days include Alaska, Idaho, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Wyoming.
The remaining five with regional mask mandates that saw increases that did not break any records include Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina.