Comparing Associations of State Reopening Strategies with COVID-19 Burden.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


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.


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.


Interrupted time series quasi-experimental study design applied to publicly available secondary data.


Fifty United States and the District of Columbia.


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.


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.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Kaufman, BG; Whitaker, R; Mahendraratnam, N; Smith, VA; McClellan, MB

Published Date

  • December 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 35 / 12

Start / End Page

  • 3627 - 3634

PubMed ID

  • 33021717

Pubmed Central ID

  • 33021717

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1525-1497

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0884-8734

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s11606-020-06277-0


  • eng