COVID-19 cases declined at 'virtually the same rate' after CDC mask guidance

·2 min read
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Despite fears that the CDC's mask reversal could potentially lead to a COVID-19 spike, cases in the United States remain in decline.

In the weeks since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that fully vaccinated people mostly don't need to wear masks or socially distance anymore, new COVID-19 cases "have continued to decline at virtually the same rate as during the month before the" announcement, The New York Times' David Leonhardt wrote Wednesday. New COVID-19 cases have been down by almost 75 percent since the middle of April, the Times noted, and the seven-day average recently declined to less than 20,000 for the first time since March 2020.

"A crucial point is that the loosened guidelines probably did not cause many people to change their behavior in ways that created new risks," Leonhardt writes. "Vaccinated people went maskless more often, but they are extremely unlikely to get the virus. And even before the CDC change, many unvaccinated Americans were already not wearing masks, particularly in Republican-leaning communities."

When it was first announced, the CDC's mask guidance was criticized by some experts as being too abrupt, and CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen was among those concerned it would remove an incentive to get vaccinated. Leonhardt notes, though, that the number of daily vaccinations in the United States had been falling prior to the CDC guidance, and "with a few days of the mask announcement, the decline leveled off."

Overall, the data suggests "the optimists were better prognosticators than the pessimists," Leonhardt says, and when it comes to unvaccinated Americans who may have stopped wearing masks because of the guidance change, "there don't seem to be enough of them to increase the spread of the virus." Read more at The New York Times.