November 26, 2020

After seeing the highest daily spike in coronavirus cases, California made face masks mandatory — here’s why other states may want to follow its lead

There are several reasons why some Americans might refuse to wear a face mask, even in states where it is required. It could be an act of rebellion, which is not an uncommon response in times of heightened uncertainty. It could be related to one’s gender, political affiliation, or because of skepticism about whether wearing masks limits the spread of the coronavirus. For people in that last camp, there’s new evidence to consider.

At least 230,000 cases of coronavirus may have been prevented due to government orders requiring face masks in 15 states and the District of Columbia, according to a new study by two University of Iowa professors, Wei Lyu and George Wehby, published in “Health Affairs,” a peer-reviewed journal. (A second more fully edited version of the study is set to appear in the August issue of Health Affairs.)

On Thursday, California became the latest state requiring masks, issuing a state mandate that most of the state’s nearly 40 million residents wear face masks in public. Previously only essential-business employees had been required to wear them.

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