By Robert Preidt
A new wave of COVID-19 cases and deaths is likely in the United States as a growing number of state governors relax public health restrictions, researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn.
Mask mandates implemented in states last year were associated with a nearly 2% decline in the rate of newly reported COVID-19 deaths in the 100 days after the rules took effect, while there was an up to 3% increase in new COVID-19 deaths in the months after some states allowed restaurants to reopen for in-person dining, the CDC researchers reported in the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report last week, according to CBS News.
“This report is a critical reminder that with the current levels of COVID-19 in communities, and the continued spread of more transmissible virus variants, which have now been detected in 48 states, strictly following prevention measures remains essential,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told reporters on Friday.
This is not the first report showing that public health restrictions can slow the pandemic, Walensky noted. Last month, the CDC said there was a 5.6% decrease in the rate of new COVID-19 hospitalizations among adults aged 18-64 after some statewide mask mandates were introduced, CBS News reported.
“I think we’ve known that restaurants have led to cases, have led to clusters,” Walensky said.
U.S. health officials have warned that country’s recent drop in COVID-19 cases has stalled. Though cases have plummeted in recent weeks after hitting record highs after the holidays, CDC data show cases are still far higher than the first peak of the pandemic last April, CBS News reported.
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