KDHE Secretary Dr. Lee Norman says mask mandates are making a difference

Coronavirus in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – Coronavirus numbers are improving in Kansas, and the state’s top health official is pointing to one reason in specific: masks.

Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Dr. Lee Norman said the state is trending in the right direction in new cases, hospitalizations and death rates because of them.

Norman said masks are helping control the spread of the virus.

About a month ago, Governor Laura Kelly announced an executive order requiring people to wear masks. Fifteen counties have decided to put a mandate in place for people, while 90 counties opted out of the order.

Norman said the counties that have mask orders are seeing the biggest decrease in numbers of new cases.

“The counties that have adopted the masks, for the most part, are getting quite good at wearing the masks. Businesses are adopting mask requirements in much larger numbers than they have in the past, which by the way is a successful business strategy,” Norman said.

The 15 counties make up two third of the state’s population.

“All of the improvement in case development comes from those counties wearing masks,” Norman said.

Within the other 90 counties, Norman said the average amount of new cases is staying relatively flat. But Norman said if the counties without mandates started to have people wear masks, the amount of new cases would go down even faster.

“It would have just as dramatic of a downward slope,” Norman said about the 90 counties.

Even though the mask-mandated counties have had a big drop in the amount of new cases, overall they have higher numbers than non-mask counties. Norman attributed this to larger more dense populations.

Norman shared this graph at his weekly press conference on Wednesday. It shows the differing trend lines of mask versus non-mask mandate counties since the middle of July.

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