I just want to set the scene and give a quick update here. The Incompetent Blowhard issued a mask mandate order effective July 25. When he issued the order, and you can go check this for yourself on YouTube and other sources, he clearly said that this single step would significantly reduce cases in Minnesota. He cited very flawed “modeling” studies to support this. Health Department spokespeople subsequently said it would take two to three weeks to see the effect of the mandate on cases, and they began saying it is hard to tease out the effect of any one intervention. They were being weasels and covering their asses because they were worried that in fact we wouldn’t see a major impact. I don’t think it would take two weeks to see such a “significant” effect, based on typical incubation periods, but I am willing to accept the Department’s interpretation.
So we should look at cases for at least a couple of weeks before the mandate was enacted and then for the weeks after effectiveness. If an intervention is truly effective, you would expect to see steady change in the primary outcome, in this situation, cases, over a period of time before it plateaus. If you look at the charts I periodically publish, you can see that there hasn’t been any effect, if anything cases have increased. Those charts are often based on date of report, I tend to use date of specimen collection to show cases most accurately. The table by specimen date, however, can take several days or more to be fairly complete, due to data lags. Today I am going to look at total cases for the weeks beginning July 13, July 20, July 27, August 3, August 10, August 17, and August 24. Those last couple of weeks probably have more cases coming, especially since the state seems to be having issues with large retroactive test result dumps by some labs.
But here is what we have, for the week beginning:
July 13—4558 cases
July 20—4748 cases
July 27—4770 cases
August 3—4464 cases
August 10—4338 cases
August 17—5091 cases
August 24—5155 cases
So pick your poison, two weeks to be effective or three weeks to be effective. Week of August 10 or August 17. You can tell by looking at the numbers that the mask mandate, if anything, has caused an increase in cases. But for clarity’s sake, if it took two weeks to be effective, the trend is an average of 4635 cases in the weeks before effectiveness and 4861 in the weeks after. If it took three weeks to be effective, the average was 4575 cases in the weeks before effectiveness and 5123 after. I am guessing the Health Department will now want to say it was working within two weeks, not that either way looks good for the mask nuts.
Now since I don’t think masks make a difference one way or another, I will be charitable and say the rise in cases isn’t due to the mask mandate, but it clearly hasn’t reduced them. I am sure the Health Department will be equally charitable and acknowledge that the mask mandate hasn’t made any difference in transmission. More likely they will keep making excuses, like cases would have risen even more, it’s people’s fault for not wearing masks when they should, etc. But there is no getting around the data, no matter what, if masks made that big a difference we would have seen some impact on case numbers.