September 13, 2021

Study: Effects of COVID-19 mask mandates on hospital resources, mortality

By: Judy Mathias
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Editor's Note

This study led by researchers at the US Army Institute of Surgical Research and the Brooke Army Medical Center JBSA Fort Sam Houston, Texas, finds that a Texas state-level mask mandate issued July 3, 2020, followed by a Bexar County-level mandate issued July 15, 2020, did not reduce daily mortality; hospital or ICU bed occupancy; or ventilator occupancy of COVID-19 patients.

In an unadjusted comparison of variables before and after mask mandates on a per-100,000 population basis:


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  • new cases were 16.1 before mask mandates and 38.3 after
  • hospital bed occupancy was 18.8 before mask mandates and 50.5 after
  • ICU bed occupancy was 6.1 before mask mandates and 19.2 after
  • ventilator occupancy was 3.1 before mask mandates and 13.0 after
  • daily deaths were 0.06 before mask mandates and 0.58 after.

In an adjusted comparison of variables before and after mask mandates on a per-100,000 population basis:

  • new cases were 23.48 before mask mandates and 32.05 after
  • hospital bed occupancy was 23.66 before mask mandates and 46.14 after
  • ICU bed occupancy was 7.41 before mask mandates and 18.02 after
  • ventilator occupancy was 3.72 before mask mandates and 12.46 after
  • daily deaths were 0.19 before mask mandates and 0.45 after.

In both unadjusted and adjusted assessments, the caseload for all of the measured outcomes increased after the mask mandates were in place, the researchers concluded. The findings suggest that mask mandates alone cannot be expected to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

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