Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Mask Mandates and COVID-19 Related Symptoms in the US

Nguyen, My (2020): Mask Mandates and COVID-19 Related Symptoms in the US.

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This study investigates the extent to which the Public Mask Mandate, a policy that requires the use of face masks in public, can protect people from developing COVID-19 symptoms during the initial stage of the pandemic. By exploiting the differential timing of the mask mandate implementation across the United States, we show that mandating masks in public significantly lowers the incidence of developing all COVID-19 symptoms by 0.29 percentage points. Taking the mandate-unaffected individuals who display all symptoms as the benchmark, our estimate implies an average reduction by 290%. The finding provides suggestive evidence for the health benefits of wearing masks in public in the initial stage of the COVID-19 pandemic. The study also highlights the relevance of public mask wearing for the ongoing pandemic where the vaccination rate is precarious and access to vaccines is still limited in many countries.

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