Study shows more around Memphis wearing masks, encouraging county leaders

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Masks work to help stop the spread of COVID and more people in the Memphis area are using them, county officials said Tuesday, pointing to new data.

The county reported 528 new COVID cases, though health officials said those were the results of tests taken over several days. Overall trends, like daily positivity rates, are moving downward, they said.

County health officer Dr. Bruce Randolph said he’d like to think the numbers are due to increased use of facial coverings.

“We see the results,” he said. “We see that is the thing to do if we want to try to get back to any sense of normalcy. If we want to be able to do things, we must wear the facial covering and the mask. This virus isn’t going anywhere.”

During Tuesday’s presentation by the joint COVID task force, a group from the University of Memphis presented findings from two recent studies they did observing the usage of masks in Memphis, both before and after recent local ordinances and health directives mandating their use in many public settings.

According to the studies of about 4,000 people in retail areas, overall mask usage in late June was at 51%. By mid-July that number increased to 92%, though not everyone observed was wearing their mask correctly.

Randolph cautioned that six feet of distance were still necessary, even with a mask.

“Masking does work,” Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris said. “We just need everybody to embrace this new normal.”

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