CDC analysis looks at COVID cases in counties with and without school mask policies


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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A recent analysis by the Centers for Disease Control shows that pediatric cases of COVID-19 decline in counties where schools have a mask mandate.

Among the 520 counties studied, 198 had a school mask requirement and 322 did not. The numbers looked at cases before the start of school and then a few weeks after.

Using data from July 1-September 4, counties that met the following criteria were included: (Counties with conflicting school mask requirements were excluded from the analysis)

  • A valid school start date, and a known school mask requirement for at least one district
  • In districts with known school mask requirements, a uniform mask requirement for all students or no students
  • At least 3 weeks with 7 full days of case data since the start of the 2021–22 school year. For counties with multiple school districts, the median school start date was used

Counties without school mask requirements experienced larger increases in pediatric COVID-19 case rates after the start of school compared with counties that had school mask requirements.

According to the CDC, the limitations of the study include that causation cannot be inferred, case rates included all children under 18, which could include those children not in school (later analysis will focus on cases in school-age children), county-level teacher vaccination rate and school testing data were not controlled for the analysis, and because of the small sample size findings may not be generalizable.

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