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Covid-19: The mask-wearing US city that bucked the trend

Reported by lily | December 9th, 2020 @ 11:36 PM

Covid-19: The mask-wearing US city that bucked the trend

President-elect Joe Biden has said one of his first actions in office will be to call on all Americans to wear a mask, or face-covering.

More than half of US states currently have a mask mandate in place to limit the spread of coronavirus, but the issue has become highly controversial.

We've taken a closer look at one mask-wearing US city, which has diverged from the state-wide policy.

Care needs to be taken in drawing conclusions about the wearing face coverings, but we can look at and compare the available data and consider the range of factors that may be involved in differing infection rates.

A case study in South Dakota

South Dakota has one of the highest coronavirus infection rates in the country.

Its Republican Governor Kristi Noem has not introduced compulsory mask-wearing, and has been unwilling to bring in state-wide lockdown restrictions, arguing the government has no right to do so.

However, some communities in South Dakota have chosen a different path. The city of Brookings - fourth largest in the state - was the first to impose rules on masks inside businesses in September, along with other measures.

So has there been a fall in the city's infection rate since the introduction of these restrictions, which have not only included face coverings, but others such as limits on the capacity in businesses?

How does South Dakota compare with other US states?

Governor Noem has pointed to other US states which have had mask mandates in place for some time but are still seeing cases rise.

Her spokesman, Ian Fury, has said: "Look at Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois - states that have had mask mandates for months but are still seeing rapidly increasing cases."

It's true that these states have experienced an increase, but none has seen as many cases per capita throughout the pandemic as South Dakota, nor such a dramatic peak in November.

After introducing mask mandates along with other Covid restrictions, Minnesota, Illinois and Wisconsin kept cases relatively low, but they have seen a spike as infections have risen across the US since the summer.

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