Effect of Mask Mandate Won't Be Seen for Weeks

Effect of Mask Mandate Won't Be Seen for Weeks Click to Enlarge Photo: Unsplash

(KNSI) - The Minnesota Department of Health says questions are being raised about the impact of the state's mask mandate on daily case counts. Infectious Disease Division Director Kris Ehresmann says, based on patterns of transmission, any intervention helps, but the impact of the mandate, which just went into effect Saturday, won't be seen for a while.

"The cases we are reporting this week reflect the spread that took place in the last two weeks. So, we need to keep that in mind as we watch case numbers over the coming weeks. We would expect that the impact of the masking requirement would kick in in at least three weeks from now."

She says it's important not to get discouraged right away by the big jumps in case counts each day.

"The mandate only started on Saturday, so, we want people to keep in mind that we expect it could take a full three weeks or more to see the impact of that."

Minnesota saw over 650 new COVID-19 cases Monday, but hospitalizations dropped, and other metrics, such as daily deaths, have remained steady. The state reported 15 fewer hospitalizations Monday after a drop of 14 Sunday. Two COVID-19 related deaths were reported Monday. Both people over the age of 70 who were in an assisted living or long term care facility.

During the media briefing Monday, Ehresmann also says the MDH has talked about being outside presenting a lower risk of transmission, but social distancing should still be observed.

"That benefit of being outdoors really comes into question when you have a lot of people gathering closer together, so, less than six feet and in a tightly packed space. Even outdoors, where the risk is lower, it's still not zero."

Ehresmann adds that if you're at a gathering outside and it's going to be hard to observe six feet of social distancing, she says it's a good idea to wear a mask.

"You may want to wear a mask to an event until you are seated and see what the distance is between you and others. And then, when you're assured you're six feet away, you can take your mask off."

In June, Minnesota "moved the dials," allowing bars and restaurants, gyms, and fitness centers to reopen with capacity limits. Outdoor gatherings in groups of 25 or less were allowed with proper social distancing guidelines in place.