Kansas counties that adopted a mask mandate over the summer had lower COVID-19 case rates than those that didn’t, according to a study released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
The news comes just two days after Gov. Laura Kelly announced another run at a statewide mask mandate, with counties given until Nov. 25 to implement their own directive or ultimately opt out of any mandate at all.
The new research shows the seven-day rolling average of new cases in counties with mask mandates decreased by 6% following Kelly’s first attempt at a statewide mask order in July.
Counties that elected to opt out saw case rates increase by 100%, the data showed. While case rates were higher in counties with a mandate, which includes the state’s larger urban areas, the number of cases "declined markedly after July 3."
The report noted that the only other statewide mitigation strategies taken during that time frame were related to schools.
"Masks are an important intervention for mitigating the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and countywide mask mandates appear to have contributed to the mitigation of COVID-19 spread in Kansas counties that had them in place," the report said.
The CDC report noted its findings were consistent with similar reviews in 15 other states, as well as Washington, D.C.
They also mirror a study from the University of Kansas’ Institute for Policy and Social Research, which found that counties with mask mandates have had half the number of new cases than those that didn’t implement the requirement.
Kansas has been in the midst of a significant rise in COVID-19 cases.
KDHE Secretary Lee Norman said on a conference call Friday that the state had seen 5,939 new cases since Wednesday, as well as an increase of 84 deaths in that time frame.
That has prompted to Kelly to reintroduce another version of her mask mandate, although counties can still opt out if they so choose.
The plan is also accompanied by a new public service announcement campaign, which will debut Monday, as well as a plan designed to boost testing across the state.
"We have reached a new stage in our fight with this virus, and how we choose to respond can turn the tide for our businesses, our hospitals and our schools," Kelly said in a news conference Wednesday.
Sixty-five of Kansas’ 105 counties still haven’t implemented a mask mandate, although more have been reversing course to require the practice in recent days.
Lyon, Nemaha, Brown, Jackson and Jefferson counties, among others, have elected to require face coverings after case counts have increased in their communities.
Other states also have elected to pursue a statewide mask order, including Iowa and North Dakota.