Kansas began requiring masks, then virus cases dropped. Weeks later, ‘the data is solid’


The chart from Kansas health officer Lee Norman was eye-catching.

An orange line traced a steep fall in new cases among counties that followed Gov. Laura Kelly’s July 3 statewide mask order. A flatter blue line plotted new cases in counties that rejected the mandate, revealing little progress in slowing the spread of the virus.

The chart, which Norman showcased at an Aug. 5 news conference, was quickly criticized as “misinformation” because the lines for mask and non-mask counties followed separate vertical axes. It made the differences between them appear more dramatic.

But despite the confusion, an analysis of Kansas COVID-19 cases by The Kansas City Star and The Wichita Eagle broadly confirms Norman’s data. It shows an overall downward trend since last month in 16 counties with a mask order early on while 89 counties without one trended up.

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