COVID-19 outbreaks 3.5 times more likely in schools without mask mandates, report says

NPR via CDC

By Yana Kunichoff and Alison Steinbach | Arizona Republic

Research on the effect of masks in public schools found schools in Maricopa and Pima counties without a mask mandate were 3.5 times more likely to have COVID-19 outbreaks than those that started the academic year requiring face coverings.

Related: Schools on tribal land lax in enforcing community’s mask rules, parents say

Ninety-two percent of schools with mask mandates in place when the school year started had no outbreaks during the nearly seven weeks of the study, according to a report published Friday.

Arizona State University researchers analyzed data from July 15 to Aug. 31 provided by Maricopa and Pima county public health departments. They also found that the earlier a district implemented a mask requirement, the less likely it was to have an outbreak.

An outbreak is defined as two or more confirmed COVID-19 cases at the same school within a 14-day period.

The report, published Friday in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly report, drops at a crucial moment in the tension over masks in Arizona schools.

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