Face Masks

The CUSP database tracks the dates when states implemented and lifted face mask mandates for everyone in public spaces or for public-facing workers. The database also documents whether there were enforcement measures tied to policies. These data may help to assess differences between states to determine the extent to which statewide mask policies can prevent the spread of COVID-19. States could also play a role in making highest quality masks easily available to everyone and establishing workplace standards in the highest risk environments.


Drs. Wei Lyu and George Wehby used CUSP data in their research that found that state mask orders were associated with reduced COVID-19 growth rates, in an article that was the most read in Health Affairs in 2020. A team at Boston University School of Public Health led by Charlie Fischer also used CUSP data on face mask mandates to demonstrate an association between high mask adherence and reduced rates of COVID-19. The Biden administration’s National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness also used CUSP data to describe which states implemented statewide mask mandates. A report published by the CDC found that state-issued mask mandates were associated with decreases in daily COVID-19 case and death rates. In Germany, a study found that face masks reduced the number of new infections by around 45% after just 20 days of regional face mask mandates.


In an essay published in August, Jaimie Wilson described working in a restaurant during the COVID pandemic and “greeting unmasked guests with a smile even though I am terrified by the the sight of their faces.” State mask policies shape whether people protect themselves and each other from COVID-19. In some states that did not have mask orders, restaurant employees were vulnerable to being forced not to wear masks.