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COVID-19 cases dropped in Kansas counties with mask orders and increased in others

Laura Kelly wearing a blue shirt: Kansas Governor Laura Kelly on her inauguration day at the Kansas Capitol on January 14, 2019 in Topeka, Cannes.

© Mark Rheinstein / Zuma Press / TNS
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly on the opening day at the Kansas Capitol on January 1

4, 2019 in Topeka, Cannes.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – While Kansas counties are deciding how to respond to Governor Laura Kelly’s new mask order, a new study shows that counties that accepted the governor’s first term this summer have seen a drop in COVID-19 cases.

Among commissioned counties, the seven-day moving average of new cases fell by an average of 6% in the month and a half after the mandate. Meanwhile, cases in districts without a mask requirement report an average 100% increase.

The analysis, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Kansas Department of Health and the Environment, was published Friday in the CDC’s weekly report on morbidity and mortality.

“Kansas counties that had mandates in place appear to have mitigated the transmission of COVID-19, while non-mandate counties continue to increase in cases,” the study said.

The findings come as Kelly emphasizes masks in the fight against the latest wave of COVID-19, which fills state hospitals. Cases in Kansas have risen to unprecedented levels and are now turning into increasing hospitalizations.

The new order from the governor of the Democratic Party takes effect on Wednesday, with the delay aimed at encouraging counties to accept their own orders for masks. Counties will have the right to carry out their own orders once the nationwide mandate takes effect. Local leaders also have the opportunity to break the order, just as they did in July.

Kelly also launched a public campaign to promote the use of masks and other precautions for COVID-19 and the deployment of advanced testing across the country.

“I am fully committed to the above-mentioned COVID mitigation strategy,” Kelly said on Friday.

Kansas has registered an additional 5,939 cases of COVID-19 and 84 deaths since Wednesday, KDHE Secretary Lee Norman said on Friday. Current hospitalizations reached an all-time record of 1,039 on Thursday, according to the COVID-19 tracking project.

The CDC report adds to a growing body of analysis that suggests ordering masks this summer has helped stem the rise in cases in the counties that followed. Research by the Institute for Political and Social Research at the University of Kansas also found that after the July order, masked counties kept cases flat, while unmasked counties saw an increasing number.

The CDC-KDHE analysis looked at the 24 counties that had a mandate as of August 11, and examined the frequency of cases between June 1 and August 23. The study found that although the cases were higher in the mandated districts than in the non-mandated districts, the percentages in the mandated districts fell “significantly” after July 3 compared to the non-mandated districts.

The study admits that it does not take into account the effect of cities with orders for masks in districts without masks. But it is also said that the findings are in line with other countries that needed masks.

“The reduction in cases among mandated districts and the continuing increase in cases in non-mandated districts add evidence to support the importance of wearing masks and implementing policies that require their use to mitigate the spread of (COVID-19),” the study said.

As cases increase, Republicans are more subdued in their opposition to the new term than in the summer. During a briefing for top lawmakers on Friday, no one offered criticism.

In written statements, some MPs expressed personal opposition to the mandates, clearly indicating the choice of individual districts. “The decision is still in their hands, and I will always believe that restrictions across the country are not the answer,” said Senate President Susan Wagl, a Republican from Wichita.

Health leaders have been encouraging the use of masks for months. David Wilde, vice president of efficiency at the University of Kansas Health System, said Friday that “in general,” anything we can do that increases adherence to disguise across our country will benefit us all. “


© 2020 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.)

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