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Mask Mandates More Effective at Boosting Consumer Confidence When Issued at State Level Rather Than Local, Study Finds

  • University of Utah study associates mask mandates with both a decrease in COVID-19 cases and an increase in consumer confidence
  • However, county-level mandates are associated with a decrease in economic activity
  • Researchers suggest that local mandates give the impression that COVID-19 cases are worse in a particular area, causing more people to stay home

One challenge in containing the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States has been a patchwork of regulations and restrictions. With no national mandate in place requiring people to wear masks in public places, state governors and municipalities have put in place their own rules, which can vary considerably.

A recent study by University of Utah researchers determines that statewide mask mandates are more effective than those issued at the local level. The study concluded that mask mandates in general resulted in a decrease in COVID-19 infections (by about 10 cases per 100,000 people) and increased consumer confidence, with shoppers approximately 51 percent more likely to enter a store if everyone inside was wearing a mask.

But while county-level mask mandates were still associated with a reduction in COVID-19 cases, they were also found to depress economic activity. Researchers suggested that local restrictions signal to consumers that infections are worse in the area, causing more people to avoid businesses there.

Some governors have favored local mandates over statewide ones during the COVID-19 pandemic, although the third wave of infections has spurred statewide mandates in some states. Thirty-seven states currently have a statewide mask mandate in place.

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