Arizona mask mandates, business closures slowed spread of COVID-19, CDC says

Oct. 6 (UPI) — Local mask mandates, restrictions on public events, and closing bars, gyms, movie theaters and restaurants in mid-June slowed a surge in COVID-19 cases in Arizona that began earlier that month, according to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

By Aug. 7, less than two months after the measures were implemented, daily rates of new cases in the state had dropped by 75%, the agency said.

“The primary goal of implementing widespread enhanced mitigation measures in Arizona was to protect and save lives and maintain capacity in the healthcare system,” CDC researchers wrote. “A combination of voluntary and enforceable measures is more effective than any single measure.

Between June 1 and 15, the number of daily confirmed cases of COVID-19 increased 151%, from 808 on the first of the month to 2,026 two weeks later, according to the CDC.

State officials had lifted statewide “stay-at-home” orders designed to encourage social distancing and limited the spread of the virus June 1, the agency said.

With the rise in confirmed cases that occurred after the orders were lifted, city, county and state officials began to implement measures to reverse the trend.

Among them: mandates requiring the wearing of face coverings in public places and closing businesses considered to be at high risk for COVID-19 spread, including bars and gyms.

In some cities, members of the public and businesses that failed to comply with the mandates faced fines and, in the case of businesses that failed to enforce the rules among customers, loss of operating licenses.

Although controversial, the measures eventually succeeded in reducing daily case counts in the state. Daily COVID-19 cases peaked at 4,160 in Arizona on July 12, but declined to 867 by Aug. 7, or just above where they were when stay-at-home orders were in place.

“The number of COVID-19 cases stabilized and began to decrease approximately two weeks after local officials began mandating mask wearing,” the CDC researchers wrote.

Decreases were seen in daily case numbers after mitigation measures were put in place, including limiting large gatherings, pausing operations at some businesses, mandating and enforcing mask wearing, and promoting voluntary resident actions for both staying home and wearing masks, they said.

Source Article