The usefulness of mask-wearing and mask mandates to limit the spread of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP Virus (COVID-19)) is being called into question by preliminary findings from a new study that has yet to be peer-reviewed.
The study, conducted by leading author Damian D. Guerra, an assistant professor of biology at the University of Louisville, and co-author Daniel J. Guerra, of VerEvMed, also pointed out that mask mandates and mask usage are not the same things.
During low-transmission times, mask use—defined as “the percentage of people who always wear masks in public settings”—was linked to slower virus spread. However, during high-transmission periods, masks did not appear to play a significant role in controlling the spread.
At first, the authors expected that statewide mask regulations and mask use were associated with decreasing CCP Virus case growth rates.
They compared the CCP Virus case growth in the 33 states that adopted statewide mask laws on or before August 2, 2020, with those that implemented mask requirements after that date and those that had no mask mandates at all to test this hypothesis.
To their surprise, they found that while “80% of U.S. states mandated masks during the COVID-19 pandemic” and while “mandates induced greater mask compliance, they did not predict lower growth rates when community spread was low or high.”
“Contrary to our hypothesis, early mandates were not associated with lower minimum case growth,” the authors found. “Maximum case growth was the same among states with early, late, and no mandates. This indicates that mask mandates were not predictive of slower COVID-19 spread when community transmission rates were low or high.”
“Case growth was not significantly different between mandate and non-mandated states at low or high transmission rates, and surges were equivocal,” the authors go further into the topic.
“Mask use predicted lower case growth at low, but not high transmission rates. Growth rates were comparable between states in the first and last mask use quintiles adjusted for normalized total cases early in the pandemic and unadjusted after peak Fall-Winter infections. Mask use did not predict Summer 2020 case growth for non-Northeast states or Fall-Winter 2020 growth for all continental states,” the authors wrote in the report.
“Data suggest that mask use is a poor predictor of COVID-19 growth at the state level,” they concluded. “Our findings do not support the hypothesis that SARS-CoV-2 transmission rates decrease with greater public mask use.”
The study is based on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) data to calculate total CCP Virus case growth and mask used in the United States.
However, both authors noted a few limitations in the report in that they only looked at state averages, not counties or municipalities. Also, survey bias exists in data acquired from the IHME CCP Virus model. The researchers looked at confirmed and probable cases but did not consider hospitalizations or fatalities to determine the spread of CCP Virus infections.