DELAWARE, USA — A new U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study found that state-mandated stay-at-home orders and public mask mandates coupled with case investigations with contact tracing contributed to an 82% reduction in COVID-19 incidence, 88% reduction in hospitalizations, and 100% reduction in mortality in Delaware during late April through June.
Mitigation measures include stay-at-home orders and public mask-wearing, together with routine public health interventions such as case investigation with contact tracing and immediate self-quarantine after exposure, which are recommended to prevent and control the transmission of COVID-19.
The study showed that a stay-at-home order and case investigations instituted weeks before the peak in COVID-19 cases (week of April 13) in Delaware likely contributed to the subsequent decline observed in COVID-19 incidence and associated hospitalization and deaths.
"As expected, the impact on incidence was not immediate but occurred weeks after measures were implemented, as new cases represented exposure that occurred during previous weeks," the study says. "Additional steep declines in reports of new cases occurred after a public mask use mandate was issued in late April."
All of the steps mentioned in the case study have been in place in Maine, which Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah noted during Friday’s coronavirus briefing. On Thursday, Maine Gov. Janet Mills strengthened the mask mandate to require face coverings in all public spaces, regardless of the ability to maintain physical distancing.
Shah said the study “reinforces that the steps we’ve taken in Maine are in line with what the CDC recognizes as best national practices.”
However, some people in Delaware, Maine, and across the country have opposed these state-mandated orders and restrictions, leading to the politicization of the pandemic. Many right-wing groups and conservatives argue the mandates violate personal freedoms, but, as NEWS CENTER Maine has verified, the government has some leeway in order to protect the public’s health and safety.
As cases increase in Maine, Mills and Shah continue to urge compliance with the orders.
“Protect your family. Protect a health care worker. Protect the elderly. Wear your face covering. Save lives. It is that simple,” Mills said Thursday.
Shah reiterated that Mills' new mask mandate that face-coverings must be worn in public spaces is a common-sense measure.
“The bottom line is: widespread masking would have a rapid and significant impact on the rates of transmission of COIVD-19 across the state and across the country," Shah said.
"Masks are critical for reducing SARS-CoV-2 transmission from persons with symptomatic or asymptomatic infection," the U.S. CDC says in the study. "Wearing masks can prevent respiratory droplets containing SARS-CoV-2 from traveling into the air and being transmitted to other persons and thus can reduce exposures and infections."
Shah said his takeaway from the study reiterates the saying “what’s predictable is preventable.”
Shah said, “One of the things that we can do right now to keep folks out of the hospital is to keep the overall level of COVID-19 across our community as low as possible.”