Has Ohio’s statewide mask mandate affected the coronavirus case counts in counties? Data show 40 percent of counties saw a net increase during a 21-day period, despite claims by Gov. Mike DeWine and the CDC.
The Ohio Star examined the state health department’s historic case counts. The summary data is available in a CSV file from a link on the Ohio Department of Health’s coronavirus dashboard here.
The statewide mask mandate took effect July 23. The Star looked at July 1-22, then used the 23rd as a baseline and added 15 days to allow for the masks to begin working. We compared the same number of days from Aug. 6-27.
The Star recently applied a similar analysis to Summit County’s virus count vs. the mask mandate. That story is available here. That data, which included the county health department’s information, showed cases increased.
Yet, there were 909 cases, an increase of 14 percent. He pointed out there was an increase on August 21.
Looking at other Ohio counties during the periods starting July 1 and Aug. 6, 35 of 88 counties (40 percent) experienced a net increase in cases (highlighted in yellow in the embedded document).
A total of 47 of 88 counties, or 53 percent, saw either a net increase or no more than a 20 percent reduction in cases (in yellow and green in the document). Fourteen of 88 counties saw a 50 percent to 70 percent reduction. Only five of 88 counties saw a 70 percent or more reduction.
An Aug. 21 story in The Star analyzed the reliability of testing and data that showed that increased testing caused increased positive cases.
Testing uncovers active infections. Testing also results in more false positives, according to the Journal of The American Medical Association – PCR tests are so sensitive they can pick up positive results for up to three months, well beyond infectiousness.
Yet DeWine on July 22 tweeted, “We know that masks work, and if the vast majority of us would wear them, it will matter a lot.”
We know that masks work, and if the vast majority of us would wear them, it will matter a lot.
— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) July 22, 2020
DeWine embedded a quote from Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “If all of us would put on a face covering now for the next four weeks, six weeks, we could drive this epidemic to the ground.”
That was over seven weeks ago. DeWine continues to make the case for masks.
On Monday, he tweeted an infographic about slowing the spread. There were cartoon characters wearing masks, including a man lifting weights and a woman playing tennis.
— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) September 14, 2020
DeWine must not have read the state health department’s data.
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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.