COVID-19 Cases Dropped 15 Percent in South Carolina Areas with Mask Mandates, Increased Without Them
South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control shared data last week proving “what we already knew, wearing face masks works,” Dr. Linda Bell, S.C. State Epidemiologist said in a press release.
Health officials found that when analyzing rates of COVID-19 transmission across the state, “jurisdictions with mask requirements in place have seen an overall decrease of 15.1 percent of total cases” within the past four weeks.
Meanwhile, cases in areas without a mask mandate rose by up to 30.4 percent.
“We will be in a much better position in four to six weeks if South Carolinians practice physical distancing and use a mask,” Bell added. “Together, we can completely reverse our fortunes and create safe environments for our business recovery, for our lifestyle recovery, and particularly for our students returning to school in a few short weeks, but we must act more aggressively, and now.”
South Carolina is one of just 16 states that does not have a statewide mask mandate. As Forbes noted, the only states that have yet to issue these requirements are led by Republican governors.
Despite the lack of a statewide mandate, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster is requiring that all residents wear masks at restaurants, which are currently open for indoor dining.
RELATED VIDEO: Is It Safe to Go to the Gym During the Coronavirus Pandemic? Here’s Everything You Need to Know
Health officials in Kansas have also reported similar findings about the proven effectiveness of masks in slowing the spread of COVID-19.
Earlier this month, the state’s top official shared that while new cases had dropped in counties with a mask mandate in place, there had been no decrease in areas without one.
“All improvements in case development comes from those counties wearing masks” Dr. Lee Norman said at a press conference, according to the Associated Press.
Although Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly issued a statewide mandate in July, 90 counties went on to reject the order. However, while only 15 counties have followed the mandate, the majority of the state’s population resides in those areas.
A recent study found that the N95 masks most commonly worn by healthcare workers are the most effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19, while disposable surgical masks and homemade cotton masks were also found to limit the transmission of droplets, and the best option for the average person.
Meanwhile, neck gaiters, which have become common among runners and other athletes due to their breathability, may be less effective than not wearing a mask at all.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.