Universal masking, avoiding nonessential indoor spaces are recommended to mitigate COVID-19 spread

March 8, 2021

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report that found that mandating masks was associated with a decrease in daily COVID-19 case and death growth rates within 20 days of implementation.

Allowing on-premises restaurant dining was associated with an increase in daily COVID-19 case growth rates 41 to 100 days after implementation and an increase in daily death growth rates 61 to 100 days after implementation. Mask mandates and restricting any on-premises dining at restaurants can help limit community transmission of COVID-19 and reduce case and death growth rates.

CDC recommends a combination of evidence-based strategies to reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Because the virus is transmitted predominantly by inhaling respiratory droplets from infected persons, universal mask use can help reduce transmission.

Starting in April, 39 states and the District of Columbia (DC) issued mask mandates in 2020. Reducing person-to-person interactions by avoiding nonessential shared spaces, such as restaurants, where interactions are typically unmasked and physical distancing (≥6 ft) is difficult to maintain, can also decrease transmission. In March and April 2020, 49 states and DC prohibited any on-premises dining at restaurants, but by mid-June, all states and DC had lifted these restrictions. T

To examine the association of state-issued mask mandates and allowing on-premises restaurant dining with COVID-19 cases and deaths during March  to December 31, 2020, county-level data on mask mandates and restaurant reopenings were compared with county-level changes in COVID-19 case and death growth rates relative to the mandate implementation and reopening dates. Implementing mask mandates was associated with reduced SARS-CoV-2 transmission, whereas reopening restaurants for on-premises dining was associated with increased transmission.

Mask mandates were associated with statistically significant decreases in county-level daily COVID-19 case and death growth rates within 20 days of implementation. Allowing on-premises restaurant dining was associated with increases in county-level case and death growth rates within 41–80 days after reopening.

Studies have confirmed the effectiveness of community mitigation measures in reducing the prevalence of COVID-19. Mask mandates are associated with reductions in COVID-19 case and hospitalization growth rates, whereas reopening on-premises dining at restaurants, a known risk factor associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection, is associated with increased COVID-19 cases and deaths, particularly in the absence of mask mandates.

CDC has the report.

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