The first ecological study of state mask mandates and their use to include data from the winter case spike has found that widespread mask-wearing likely didn’t slow the spread of COVID-19.
The study, conducted by the University of Louisville using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that “80% of US states mandated masks during the COVID-19 pandemic,” but while “mandates induced greater mask compliance, [they] did not predict lower growth rates when community spread was low (minima) or high (maxima).” The study also found that “mask mandates and use are not associated with lower SARS-CoV-2 spread among US states.”
“Our findings do not support the hypothesis that SARS-CoV-2 transmission rates decrease with greater public mask use,” the study said, as reported by Townhall’s Spencer Brown.
The study noted that “masks may promote social cohesion as rallying symbols during a pandemic, but risk compensation can also occur.” Researchers described multiple downsides to wearing a mask, including:
Prolonged mask use (>4 hours per day) promotes facial alkalinization and inadvertently encourages dehydration, which in turn can enhance barrier breakdown and bacterial infection risk. British clinicians have reported masks to increase headaches and sweating and decrease cognitive precision. Survey bias notwithstanding, these sequelae are associated with medical errors. By obscuring nonverbal communication, masks interfere with social learning in children. Likewise, masks can distort verbal speech and remove visual cues to the detriment of individuals with hearing loss; clear face-shields improve visual integration, but there is a corresponding loss of sound quality.
The research also found that mask mandates were “poor predictors of COVID-19 spread”:
In summary, mask mandates and use were poor predictors of COVID-19 spread in US states. Case growth was independent of mandates at low and high rates of community spread, and mask use did not predict case growth during the Summer or Fall-Winter waves. Strengths of our study include using two mask metrics to evaluate association with COVID-19 growth rates; measuring normalized case growth in mandate and non-mandate states at comparable times to quantify the likely effect of mandates; and deconvolving the effect of mask use by examining case growth in states with variable mask use.
As The Daily Wire’s Eric Quintanar previously reported, the CDC updated its guidance on May 13 to say that fully vaccinated people can stop “wearing a mask or physical distancing.”