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Masks and closures in Arizona led to a 75% decrease in coronavirus cases

A man wearing a mask sitting on a bench at the Grand Canyon.
(Image: © Shutterstock)

Mask mandates, closures of certain businesses and other COVID-19 mitigation strategies implemented over the summer led to a 75% drop in new coronavirus cases in Arizona, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

In stark contrast, when the state's stay-at-home order was lifted at the start of June, but such measures weren't yet put in place, the number of new COVID-19 cases increased 151% within two weeks, according to the report. As mounting evidence has shown, "widespread implementation and enforcement of sustained community mitigation measures, including mask wearing," can help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the authors wrote in the report.

Arizona has now reported more than 224,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 5,700 related deaths, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS). On March 11, Arizona declared a public health state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 crisis and on March 31, the ADHS issued a stay-at-home order, according to the report. 

Related: Coronavirus live updates

From the start of April to mid-May, the seven-day average number of daily cases in Arizona loomed between 154 to 443. From April 29 to May 11, Arizona started reopening businesses, stores and restaurants using a phased approach and ended the stay-at-home order on May 15. 

On June 1, the average number of daily cases was 808. By June 15, it had skyrocketed to 2,026, more than doubling, according to the report. Mask-wearing at the time wasn't "widely mandated or enforced" until the state provided local governments with the authority to implement mask policies on June 17.

After that, Arizona took a number of steps to slow the spread of COVID-19, including limiting public events to fewer than 50 people; closing bars, gyms, movie theaters, water parks and recreational tubing facilities; limiting indoor dining capacity to less than 50% and requiring social distancing in those spaces. 

The average number of cases in the state peaked between June 29 an July 2, with 4,148 cases to 4,377 new daily cases, stabilized for the next 10 days and then decreased by 75% from July 13 to Aug. 7, according to the report. The mitigation measures were kept in place through August.

"A combination of voluntary and enforceable measures is more effective than any single measure," the authors wrote in the report. Policies that mandate such mitigation measures can "effectively" increase social distancing and wearing masks "has prevented transmission of SARS-CoV-2."

Such measures "should be implemented by communities and persons to slow COVID-19 spread, particularly before a vaccine or therapeutic treatment becomes widely available," the authors added.

Originally published on Live Science.

  • Chem721
    This is clearly not a surprise. But this data likely irritates the never-maskers out there.

    Do you have a right to refuse to wear a mask, even when it endangers the lives of others? Most people say no!

    How could anyone not understand that masks are so important?

    They simply have no concept or concern about stopping the disease, or minimizing its victims.

    One must suspect these people are way down on the lower half of the IQ bell curve.

    WEAR MASKS, YOU FOOLS!!!!!!!!!
    Reply
  • seebanx
    So you plan on wearing a mask the rest of your life? That would certainly reduce the risk of illness from others. Do that if you'd like. We have many airborne illnesses around, this isn't a new concern. It's likely the increase in cases was driven be increases in testing. A mask protects you but not necessarily anybody else. If you're afraid of the Covid wear a mask. I'm not responsible for your health and you're not responsible for mine. You can protect yourself by not socializing with others and wearing protective gear. For that matter why stop at a mask. There's lots of other protective gear you can use. Are you doing that also?
    Reply
  • Chem721
    seebanx said:
    I'm not responsible for your health and you're not responsible for mine.

    There are active law enforcement penalties in some places of the country, and throughout the world, that say you are responsible for my health and must wear a mask and keep distance, or face prosecution. We can only hope you live in such a place because in the event of a pandemic, everyone should be responsible for everyone else's health. Sadly, some of these people require law enforcement to comply, and end up with fines, and perhaps even jail time. It has been noted that being in jail risks a greater chance for infection.

    Ignoring pandemic restrictions is like being a drunk driver. A drunk driver also may not think they are responsible for other people's health. If someone gets in their way while they are DWI, that is just too bad. There are parallels to such thinking regarding pandemics. People who are threats to the greater good of society are people who should be dealt with by law enforcement.

    There is little wonder that humans are doomed. The lower-half-of-the-IQ-curve-people are bound to kill off themselves, and take the upper half with them. It does seem inevitable.
    Reply
  • seebanx
    Chem721 said:
    There are active law enforcement penalties in some places of the country, and throughout the world, that say you are responsible for my health and must wear a mask and keep distance, or face prosecution. We can only hope you live in such a place because in the event of a pandemic, everyone should be responsible for everyone else's health. Sadly, some of these people require law enforcement to comply, and end up with fines, and perhaps even jail time. It has been noted that being in jail risks a greater chance for infection.

    Ignoring pandemic restrictions is like being a drunk driver. A drunk driver also may not think they are responsible for other people's health. If someone gets in their way while they are DWI, that is just too bad. There are parallels to such thinking regarding pandemics. People who are threats to the greater good of society are people who should be dealt with by law enforcement.

    There is little wonder that humans are doomed. The lower-half-of-the-IQ-curve-people are bound to kill off themselves, and take the upper half with them. It does seem inevitable.
    Reply
  • seebanx
    So answer my question. Are you planning on wearing a mask the rest of your life? You argued that it was a matter of health now you're saying its a matter of legality. Which is it. Certainly if you wear a mask the rest of your life you'll be safer from various diseases. Or are you saying people are stupid simply because they are not obeying the law? Wearing a mask protects you not necessarily me. my wearing a mask has little if any effect on you. As far as drinking and driving, the drinking part is the risk. It's an action that can be avoided that might possibly endanger another person. Its not a legitimate comparison.
    Reply
  • Chem721
    seebanx said:
    You argued that it was a matter of health now you're saying its a matter of legality. Which is it.

    Clearly it is both. The health issue forces the legal issue because of people who are not informed, or care, about the hazards. Just like the drunk driver. They may not be informed of the hazards, so laws are required to spell them out. Ignorance of laws is no excuse, but can have its consequences.

    seebanx said:
    my wearing a mask has little if any effect on you.

    This proves you have little understanding of the problem. Wearing masks protects everyone. If you are infected, you wear a mask to limit spread. If you are not infected, you wear a mask to avoid contracting the virus. This is absolute scientific fact derived from studies all over the world.

    Clearly it is the lack of such knowledge that is the most dangerous thing to the survival of the human race. The pandemic has made this all too obvious.

    While Darwin had the answers for evolution with "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection", he never wrote the flip side:

    "On the Extinction of Species by Lack of Knowledge."Perhaps someone should take up the topic and explain why we are doomed because of ignorance which cannot be circumvented.
    Reply