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Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Some states' requirements that face masks be worn in public may have led to hundreds of thousands of fewer coronavirus cases than there would have been without the mandates, according to a new study in Health Affairs.

Yes, but: Despite the growing body of evidence that this simple mitigation strategy is one of our best defenses against the coronavirus, wearing them remains controversial, and mandating their use even more so.

Between the lines: When everyone wears a face mask, it helps reduce spread of the virus by all carriers — including those who are asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic.

  • The study found a "significant decline in daily COVID-19 growth rate after mandating facial covers in public, with the effect increasing over time after signing the order."
  • Although only 15 states plus the District of Columbia required mask use in public, between 230,000 and 450,000 coronavirus cases may have been averted by May 22.
  • 20 other states have more limited mask requirements, but "results indicate no evidence of declines in daily COVID-19 growth rates with the employee-only mandates," the authors write.

Go deeper: The rise of the designer face mask

Go deeper

Coronavirus cases rise in 22 states

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Note: Texas added a backlog of cases on Sept. 22, removing that from the 7-day average Texas' cases increased 28.3%; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Sara Wise/Axios

The coronavirus is surging once again across the U.S., with cases rising in 22 states over the past week.

The big picture: There isn't one big event or sudden occurrence that explains this increase. We simply have never done a very good job containing the virus, despite losing 200,000 lives in just the past six months, and this is what that persistent failure looks like.

Updated Oct 7, 2020 - Health

World coronavirus updates

Expand chart
Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand now has active no coronavirus cases in the community after the final six people linked to the Auckland cluster recovered, the country's Health Ministry confirmed in an email Wednesday.

The big picture: The country's second outbreak won't officially be declared closed until there have been "no new cases for two incubation periods," the ministry said. Auckland will join the rest of NZ in enjoying no domestic restrictions from late Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, declaring that NZ had "beat the virus again."