Delaware’s stay-at-home order and mask policy significantly lowered the rate of Covid-19 cases in the state, according to a study.
Based on the new U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study published on Friday, Delaware’s stay-at-home order and face mask mandate, together with other health measures, also reduced Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths.
Delaware recorded its first coronavirus case on March 11 and then imposed a stay-at-home order on March 24 that shut down all nonessential businesses and schools until June 1. On May 8, some small businesses, including clothing stores, hair salons, and bookshops, were allowed reopened with limited operations.
Gov. John Carney implemented a statewide mask mandate on April 28 and started contact tracing efforts in mid-May, according to the study, released in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports.
The team gathered laboratory data from the Delaware Electronic Reporting and Surveillance System and case investigation data from the Delaware Division of Public Health. The study traced that those health and safety efforts led to an 82% reduction in Covid-19 cases and an 88% reduction in hospitalizations. They achieved a 100% reduction in deaths in Delaware from late April to June, according to the study
The researchers noted that the drop of Covid-19 infections, hospitalization, and mortality could not be attributed to one single mitigation effort. What is not available at the moment is data on how people observed the state-mandated stay-at-home order and the use of face masks.
“A stay-at-home order and case investigations instituted weeks before the peak in COVID-19 cases … in Delaware likely contributed to the subsequent decline observed in COVID-19 incidence and associated hospitalization and deaths,” researchers wrote.
“Additional steep declines in reports of new cases occurred after a public mask use mandate was issued in late April. Masks are critical for reducing SARS-CoV-2 transmission from persons with symptomatic or asymptomatic infection,” they said.
The team also cited “several barriers” to Delaware’s contact tracing efforts. Out of over 9,700 laboratory-confirmed infections recorded between March 11 and June 25, about two-thirds of the patients were queried and 83% either did not name contacts or could not recall contacts.
“Early detection, self-isolation, and investigation of COVID-19 cases and self-quarantine of close contacts can be effective in preventing community transmission if contacts are identified and reached soon after exposure,” the study said.
In July, the CDC urges the public to wear masks to get the coronavirus pandemic in the US under control.
Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, believes the spread of the virus can be under control in one to two months if every American wore a mask.
“The time is now,” he said during an interview with the Journal of the American Medical Association’s Dr. Howard Bauchner. “I think if we could get everybody to wear a mask right now I think in four, six, eight weeks we could bring this epidemic under control.”
Moreover, some researchers note that the coronavirus could be transmitted through aerosolized droplets, or particles that travel by air, especially in places with poor ventilation.