These Were the First States to Mandate Masks. Here's How They're Doing.
Did requiring masks help save these states from spiking coronavirus cases?
In response to a spiking number of coronavirus cases, many states have begun mandating face masks in public spaces. But while face masks are now required in 16 states, some states were ahead of the curve, putting laws on the books as early as the beginning of April. We're checking in on the five states who were quick to mandate face coverings to see where their coronavirus numbers currently stand.
A June study published in Health Affairs that analyzed community use of face masks noted 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." According to the study, it's estimated that between 230,000 and 450,000 coronavirus cases were averted by May 22 as a result of mandating masks. And for more on the rise of COVID-19 across the country, check out these 5 States Where New Coronavirus Cases Doubled Last Week.
The state of New Jersey was hit especially hard by the pandemic early on, with hotspots in Bergen county and Newark, both under an hour from New York City. In response to the high volume of cases, New Jersey was the first state to issue a face-covering order way back on April 8. By the beginning of May, cases began to drop drastically in the state and have been on a steady decline since, reporting as few as 90 new cases on June 29, compared to 4,287 on April 16.
New Jersey's cases have dropped so low that they are now requiring travelers from states with a high rate of infection to quarantine for two weeks upon entering. Governor Phil Murphy, alarmed by the spikes in cases across the U.S., is approaching reopening with caution. Indoor dining was supposed to return July 2, but in a recent press briefing, Murphy announced it would be postponed indefinitely. And for more states slowing down reopening plans, These 4 States Where COVID-19 Cases Are Spiking Have Paused Reopening.
At the height of Connecticut's coronavirus outbreak, they were seeing fewer than half the cases New Jersey was, but in an effort to avoid any significant spikes, they began mandating masks fairly early, on April 20. While Connecticut's highest daily number of daily new cases was 2,109, the state was generally averaging under 1,000 cases in April. The state has seemingly recovered well, reporting just 14 new cases on June 24.
Connecticut began reopening on May 20 and was swiftly moving through the phases until Governor Ned Lamont shared his concerns about moving into phase 3 due to the spike in other states. Lamont recently announced he is "rethinking" including bars in phase 3 of reopening, which is slated for mid- to late July.
Unsurprisingly, Hawaii has not had many COVID-19 cases, as they have the benefit of being disconnected from the country's mainland. The state's highest number of new cases in a day was 34. Hawaii began mandating face masks on April 20 as an extra preventative measure. Following this decree, Hawaii did not report more than five new cases a day throughout May. More recently, however, the state has seen a small spike, reporting 27 new cases on June 28. And for other states with a relatively small number of cases, These Are the Only 3 States Left With Under 1,000 COVID-19 Cases.
While Maryland has not been hit specifically hard by the virus, they've had their fair share of cases. The state's highest reported day was on May 19, with 1,782 new cases. The mask mandate in Maryland was put in place on April 18, and the state generally hovered around 1,000 new cases daily the following month. The cases have been cut in half, but remain significant, with Maryland reporting 477 new cases on June 29. And for more states to check in on, These States Ended Lockdown Two Months Ago. Here's How They're Doing.
New York spent much of the pandemic as the country's most significant hot spot, but has recently reversed its position. On April 4, New York reported 12,274 new cases—the majority of which were concentrated in New York City. On April 17, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced face masks would be required in places where people are unable to maintain social distancing. New York reported 391 cases on June 29, a fraction of its cases two months ago.
Similarly to New Jersey, New York is requiring people from risky states to quarantine for two weeks when entering. To keep New York on track to make a full recovery, Cuomo announced he is reconsidering allowing indoor dining in New York City, which was set to begin on July 6. "We're not going backwards, we're going forwards. Lot of these other states have actually had to go backwards," Cuomo said during a press briefing on June 29. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.