DATELINE: September 22, 2020 Naples, Fla: Roughly three-fourths of the entire state of Florida is now masking up based on widespread adoption of local county- and city-wide-mask-wearing ordinances. In the two months since a major peak July 17, Florida’s infection rate decreased three-fold as mask wearing is now practiced in three-fourths of the entire state locally. The SARS-Cov-2 infection rate had soared more than 1,000 percent from mid-April to its peak July 17.
With roughly 75 percent of the Florida’s population now covering up, the flattened curve began to appear in early September, fulfilling predictions of U.S. public health leadership. "If we had 60 percent of the population wearing masks that were 60 percent effective--you could effectively end the epidemic based on some modeling that has been done," said former FDA Commissioner, Scott Gottlieb on June 17 during a question and answer with CNBC.
By mid-summer, Florida’s infection rate had soared beyond the infection rate per capita of states that had mandated mask wearing earlier on, including New York, Maryland, and Ohio. Florida had become a global epicenter of the pandemic ranking number one for most infections with 15,300 in a single day nationwide in July.
Like other U.S. mask-mandated states, the European Union (EU), an early adopter of mask wearing, flattened the curve. The EU infection rate per capita has remained consistently lower than that of the United States throughout the summer. Meanwhile, the U.S. infection rate climbed to 18 times that of the European Union (EU) per capita by the end of June.
On July 1, after months of lockdown, European nations began re-opening their borders to nonessential travelers coming from a select list of countries in which the Covid-19 pandemic had been deemed sufficiently under control, as reported by The New York Times. The United States was, and is, not on that unilateral list.
The EU’s success in the fight against Covid-19 is due in part to minimum breathability and filtration requirements for public face masks. The EU set the criteria along with testing
methods to ensure conformance among face-covering manufacturers. At the present time, the United States has not issued guidelines on safe and effective materials for consumer facemasks.
As early as late March, European authorities supported standardization of “community face masks” worn by healthy or asymptomatic members of the general public. The EU face mask criteria provide broad-based confidence among community users and helped the EU flatten its curve.
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Rosalie Marion Bliss, MA, writes about research-based pandemic news and editorials during the pandemic. Bliss formerly was science writer and communications specialist for USDA’s chief scientific research agency.
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