NRHA's Slabach on the crucial merits of wearing a mask

From the outset, face covering as a measure of protection against SARS-CoV-2 virus infection seemed to brew controversy. Even today rural populations appear less compelled to wear masks and this may in part explain the rapid increase in both Covid infections and fatalities. These trends are even more disconcerting as we look ahead to the holidays with increased risk of exposure and illness.

In this environment, I have been receiving requests for resources to help rural providers of care to encourage their communities to practice safe behavior during this pandemic, including wearing masks. The University of Kansas released this week their research, in the form of a short video, from a natural experiment of comparing counties in Kansas that imposed a mask-wearing mandate and those that did not.

In case you are wondering before you watch the excellent video, the conclusions are as follows:

  • Do masks work? Yes!
  • Researchers found a 50% reduction in the spread of COVID-19 in Kansas counties that had a mask mandate compared to those without
  • Masks do not eliminate Covid, but they significantly slow the spread of the disease
This may not be totally convincing for some, but it may provide additional support for your efforts in keeping your communities safe through spread mitigation strategies such as face coverings.