A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Friday found that community demands that support mask use during the pandemic play a significant role in the growth rates of COVID-19 cases and deaths at the level county, especially when it comes to dining out.
An analysis of mask warrants and restaurant reopens in all U.S. counties from March to December 2020 found significant drops in daily coronavirus cases and death growth rates were occurring within 20 days of implementation the use of masks.
This is because the predominant mode of transmission of the coronavirus is inhalation of respiratory droplets expelled from infected people, the agency said, and studies have shown that masks help reduce this type of viral spread.
Meanwhile, jumps in the daily growth rates of COVID-19 cases have been seen from 40 days after the restaurant reopened – in which people don’t wear masks – while the daily growth rates of COVID-19 deaths increased 60 days after allowing meals on site.
The report comes days after the governors of Texas and Mississippi announced the lifting of statewide mask warrants and limits on commercial capacity, allowing 100% operations. Health officials, including President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, Dr Anthony Fauci, have criticized the decisions, citing previous withdrawals of public health measures that have led to outbreaks of COVID-19.
“Masking warrants and the restriction of any on-site dining at restaurants can help limit community transmission of COVID-19 and reduce the growth rates of cases and deaths,” the CDC said. “These efforts are increasingly important given the emergence of highly transmissible variants of SARS-CoV-2 in the United States.”
Between March and December 2020, about 74% of U.S. counties had active statewide mask warrants. The CDC found that these warrants were associated with a 0.5 percentage point decrease in the daily growth rates of COVID-19 cases within 20 days of implementation. A decrease of 1.8 percentage points was observed in 100 days.
Mask warrants were also associated with a 0.7 and 1.9 percentage point decrease in the daily growth rates of COVID-19-related deaths in the 20 days and 100 days, respectively, after implementation. according to the report.
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Similar trajectories were found after the restaurant reopened.
About 98% of U.S. counties allowed restaurants to reopen onsite restaurants during the study period. Within 40 days of the decisions, no “statistically significant” changes in daily rates of COVID-19 cases or deaths were observed.
But within 60 days and 100 days of the lifting of restaurant dining restrictions, the growth rate of coronavirus cases jumped 0.9 and 1.1 percentage points, respectively.
The changes in death rates were even sharper.
“Allowing on-site dining at restaurants was associated with 2.2 and 3.0 percentage point increases in the growth rate of deaths from 61 to 80 days and 81 to 100 days, respectively, after the lifting of the regulations. restrictions, ”the CDC said.
However, the agency did not “differentiate between indoor and outdoor dining, the adequacy of ventilation and meeting physical distance and occupancy requirements”, which could have been influence trends in cases and death rates. The CDC also said that the growth rates of cases and deaths could have increased because people were in close contact elsewhere, which was not factored into its models.
Recent steps by local leaders to lift public health measures against coronaviruses were taken on the basis of recent declines in cases and deaths across the country, but CDC director Dr Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday at a White House COVID-19 response briefing that the nation continued to “see worrying signs in the trajectory of the pandemic … with the most recent declines in cases and deaths continuing to show signs stall.
“The seven-day average of new coronavirus cases jumped 3.5% from the previous seven days, to around 66,000 cases. The seven-day average of deaths also increased 2.2% from the previous seven days to “just over 2,000 deaths per day,” Walensky said.
“We are at a critical point in the pandemic. … On the one hand, cases in the country are stabilizing at rates that are on the verge of potential for recurrence. … And on the other hand, stamina has waned, fatigue wins out and the exact steps we have taken to stop the pandemic are now too often blatantly ignored, ”she added.