Comparing Associations of State Reopening Strategies with COVID-19 Burden.
BACKGROUND: The novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infected over 5 million United States (US) residents resulting in more than 180,000 deaths by August 2020. To mitigate transmission, most states ordered shelter-in-place orders in March and reopening strategies varied. OBJECTIVE: To estimate excess COVID-19 cases and deaths after reopening compared with trends prior to reopening for two groups of states: (1) states with an evidence-based reopening strategy, defined as reopening indoor dining after implementing a statewide mask mandate, and (2) states reopening indoor dining rooms before implementing a statewide mask mandate. DESIGN: Interrupted time series quasi-experimental study design applied to publicly available secondary data. PARTICIPANTS: Fifty United States and the District of Columbia. INTERVENTIONS: Reopening indoor dining rooms before or after implementing a statewide mask mandate. MAIN MEASURES: Outcomes included daily cumulative COVID-19 cases and deaths for each state. KEY RESULTS: On average, the number of excess cases per 100,000 residents in states reopening without masks is ten times the number in states reopening with masks after 8 weeks (643.1 cases; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 406.9, 879.2 and 62.9 cases; CI = 12.6, 113.1, respectively). Excess cases after 6 weeks could have been reduced by 90% from 576,371 to 63,062 and excess deaths reduced by 80% from 22,851 to 4858 had states implemented mask mandates prior to reopening. Over 50,000 excess deaths were prevented within 6 weeks in 13 states that implemented mask mandates prior to reopening. CONCLUSIONS: Additional mitigation measures such as mask use counteract the potential growth in COVID-19 cases and deaths due to reopening businesses. This study contributes to the growing evidence that mask usage is essential for mitigating community transmission of COVID-19. States should delay further reopening until mask mandates are fully implemented, and enforcement by local businesses will be critical for preventing potential future closures.
Kaufman, BG; Whitaker, R; Mahendraratnam, N; Smith, VA; McClellan, MB
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