CDC Study: Mask Mandates and Restaurant Closures Have Only Minor Impact on COVID Cases


A Center for Disease Control and Prevention report released Friday found that the effects of mask mandates and restaurant restrictions on coronavirus cases and deaths were smaller than people thought.

The CDC examined county cases and deaths from March to December 2020 in the first 100 days after masks were mandated and restaurants could reopen.

Counties that issued mask mandates saw cases drop by half a percentage point in the first 20 days of the mandate. Deaths dropped by 0.7 percentage points during the same time period.

The trend continued over time but topped at a 1.8 percentage point decline between days 81 and 100. Deaths dropped 1.9 percentage points between the same number of days.

Reopening restaurants, on the other hand, had no effect on cases and deaths in the first 40 days.

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But in days 41-60, cases grew by 0.9 percentage points and deaths grew by 1.1 percentage points.

Between days 81 and 100, cases and deaths continued to climb, with cases growing by 1.1 percentage points and deaths growing by 3 percentage points.

“Several factors might explain this observation. Even though prohibition of on-premises restaurant dining was lifted, restaurants were not required to open and might have delayed reopening,” the CDC reported.

“In addition, potential restaurant patrons might have been more cautious when restaurants initially reopened for on-premises dining but might have been more likely to dine at restaurants as time passed.”

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The CDC said that further studies are needed to assess the effect of a multicomponent mitigation strategy as well as the delayed increase in case and death growth rates.

The agency acknowledged three limitations to the study. The models did not control any other policies that could affect case and death rates, like other business closures and stay-at-home orders.

The report also could not measure if people complied with the policies or if they were enforced in some way.

“Finally, the analysis did not differentiate between indoor and outdoor dining, adequacy of ventilation, and adherence to physical distancing and occupancy requirements,” the report read.

The CDC concluded that mask mandates and prohibition of on-premises restaurant dining have the potential to slow the spread of COVID-19, especially when they are paired with other health strategies.

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The researchers said that these findings will be important as communities battle highly transmissible coronavirus variants, CNBC reported.

“This report is a critical reminder that with the current levels of Covid-19 in communities, and the continued spread of more transmissible virus variants, which have now been detected in 48 states, strictly followed prevention measures remain essential for putting an end to this pandemic,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at a White House Covid-19 press briefing on Friday.

“It also serves as a warning about prematurely lifting these prevention measures.”

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith