Kansas enacted a mandate on July 3 that masks had to be worn while in public places. There was opposition, and, as allowed by state law, 81 counties chose to not participate. The other 24 counties, comprising most of the population, opted in. Since the rollout, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, the number of new coronavirus cases has fallen in the counties that follow the mandate and kept increasing in the counties that don't. The CDC and the state health department analyzed data from a month before the mandate began through two months later, NPR reports. The average case drop in masked counties was 6%. Counties that didn't enforce the mandate had a 100% increase. The study wasn't random, and there could have been other factors contributing to the declines.
Still, "this adds to the growing body of evidence that says large, widespread masking helps to slow the spread of COVID," a medical professor said. Other states have had similar drops in cases after requiring masks. Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, has issued a revised mandate that takes effect Wednesday, per the Hill. Under the order, masks must be worn in public spaces, in health care facilities, while waiting in line for public transportation and outdoors if social distancing is not possible. Kelly's office issued a statement imploring Kansans to wear masks, per WIBW. "This is how we can keep each other safe, keep our kids in school, and keep our businesses open," the statement said. Kansas has reported 134,533 confirmed coronavirus cases and 1,410 deaths as of Friday. (Most virus spreaders show no symptoms, CDC says.)