Mask rule may have slowed COVID; just 1 new case in 5 days
Public awareness heightened by Marion’s move to require face masks may have contributed to a dramatic slowing in the number of new COVID-19 cases reported daily in Marion County.
Until Sunday, when the county confirmed its 61st case — a man in his 30s — it had not confirmed a new case of COVID-19 for four days — the longest period without a new case since before county commissioners first voted to overturn a statewide requirement for masks in public settings when social distancing was impossible.
Before that vote, the number of cases in the county had been increasing at a rate of just 0.14 per day. Immediately afterward, it jumped to 1.46 per day. However, since Marion imposed its own mask order, it has been cut to just 0.60 per day.
Marion County has moved from being considered a national “red zone,” with the infection rate rising more than 1 case per 1,000 residents weekly after the county rejected a mask mandate, to having the slowest growth rate in the region, just 0.1 new cases per 1,000 residents weekly after the city imposed its own mandate.
No significant changes in the virulence, transmission, or detection of the disease have occurred during these periods. And, of course, neither stay-at-home orders nor mask mandates will completely prevent the disease’s spread.
However, since public consciousness was raised by Marion’s mask mandate, the number of new cases in the county has declined so significantly that none were reported Wednesday through Saturday and only one was reported Sunday.
Similar results have been observed statewide by scientists analyzing COVID-19 data in counties with and without mask mandates. Their findings were independently confirmed Monday by reporters for the Kansas City Star and Wichita Eagle.
Although some COVID patients in Marion County have reported other symptoms after no longer being regarded as active patients, only two county patients remained undergoing active treatment Sunday, and neither of them was hospitalized, county health officials said. To date, a total of 1,055 county residents — 8.9% of the county's population — have tested negative for COVID-19.
Last modified Aug. 17, 2020