Study: Mask mandates among the most effective means of preventing COVID deaths

A study at Yale's School of Management shows what COVID prevention measures have saved lives and which have not.

Masks save lives. That’s one of the findings of a new study conducted by researchers at Yale’s School of Management.

Professors Heather Tookes and Matthew Spiegel collected data on COVID-19 restrictions in every county in the U.S. and compared them with infection and death rates. Among the restrictions they looked at were stay-at-home orders, restrictions on gathering sizes, business closures, and the much-maligned mask mandate.

One of the clearest findings they reported was that mask mandates work to prevent both new infections and new deaths from the coronavirus. Aligned with that was the fact that mask mandates have relatively few economic downsides.

“Mandatory mask policies seem to be as effective as policies that have higher costs,” said Tookes.

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The study showed that a mask mandate reduced the growth of COVID-19 deaths in a county by as much as 12%.

Conversely, mask recommendations did comparatively little.

The team also identified measures that didn’t do much or actually caused harm. Those included closing businesses like stores. The researchers suggested shutting down shopping led to people engaging in other, riskier activities out of desperation.

“You always have to be careful of what the tradeoffs are, because if you shut down one thing, people then engage in another activity,” said Spiegel.

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You can read the full story on Yale Insights.

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