Two new studies by the CDC confirm what we feel like should be common sense at this point: COVID-19 outbreaks are not as likely at schools with mask mandates.
Anyone else feel like they are in an end-times version of Groundhog Day? It seems like every day there is a new study confirming that both vaccination and wearing a mask (no matter your vaccination status) lowers the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19, and yet, there are still some people who refuse both measures, opt to ingest horse dewormer in lieu of the vaccine, or spread other dangerous conspiracies refuting hard data and science.
Organizations like the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released numerous reports and collected swaths of data that show COVID-19 outbreaks are more likely in communities, namely schools, that do not have mask mandates. The CDC released two new reports confirming the efficacy of masking and vaccinating.
One study focused on two Arizona counties that house roughly 75% of the state’s population. The study found that coronavirus outbreaks were 3.5 times as likely at schools that didn’t require a mask mandate than schools that required masks from day one. To be considered a school with a mask mandate, all people — staff and students alike — are required to wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status.
“I would say that data actually absolutely show that masking decreases outbreaks in schools,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. “So with the purpose of keeping our kids in school, getting them in school, having them be safe, masks really are the way to go.”
The second study released by the CDC takes a look at mask mandates on a national level and has similar findings: mask mandates lower COVID-19 infection rates.
This study looked at kids in 520 counties across the country. Anyone have a wild guess as to what they found? In counties without a school mask requirement, pediatric cases of COVID-19 increased at a much higher rate than in counties that require masks in schools. Between July 15 and Aug. 31, 113 of the 191 school-associated coronavirus outbreaks — or nearly 60% of total outbreaks — started in schools that don’t have mask requirements. Only 16 of the outbreaks, which breaks down to about 8% of cases, happened in schools that required masking from the beginning of the school year.
So, as what feels like the umpteenth reminder, the CDC has stated that a layered approach — as in vaccinations for eligible students, staff, and parents; wearing a mask in indoor public spaces despite vaccination status; and, of course, washing your hands and maintaining distance in public outdoor settings — is the most effective way to lower your risk of infection.
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