Mar 5, 2021 - Health

CDC: Easing mask mandates led to higher COVID cases and deaths

A customer leaves H-E-B on March 3, 2021 in Austin, Texas. The popular Texas supermarket chain will not require customers to wear masks when the statewide mask mandate

Customer at a supermarket chain in Austin, Texas. Montinique Monroe/Getty Images

Easing mask restrictions and on-site dining have increased COVID-19 cases and deaths, according to a study out Friday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why it matters: The report's findings converge with actions from governors this week easing mask mandates and announcing plans to reopen nonessential businesses like restaurants.

  • Top health officials over the past few weeks have repeatedly warned that the stagnant weekly case counts and the emergence of the new variants, stand to reverse any progress the U.S. has recently achieved.

The state of play: Mandating masks was associated with more than a 1% decrease in daily COVID-19 case and death growth rates after 20 days of implementation, the report says.

  • Allowing on-premises restaurant dining was associated with an increase in 0.9%, 1.2% and 1.1% daily COVID-19 case growth rates 41–100 days after implementation and an increase in daily death growth rates 61–100 days after implementation.
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