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Researchers with Harvard University found that universal mask-wearing among health care workers “significantly mitigates” COVID-19 infections, according to a study published Wednesday in the academic journal Occupational Medicine.
Investigating the effect of mask-wearing among health care workers compared with the general population, researchers with the Department of Environmental Health, Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston compared the seven-day average infection rates between a Massachusetts health care system and Massachusetts residents statewide. The study accessed infection data between March 17 and May 6, the date Massachusetts implemented public masking. Because the health care system implemented universal masking on March 26, researchers allotted a five-day lag for effect onset.
During that study period, 142 workers in the health care system were infected while general populations saw 75,493 infections. Pre-intervention, or mask-wearing, both the healthcare system and the state had strong increasing trends in the 7-day average COVID-19 incidence, according to the study.
Researchers said the findings may be applicable to other essential workers and indoor businesses.
More insurance and workers compensation news on the coronavirus crisis here.
Correction: An earlier version of this story wrongly stated that Cal/OSHA had changed requirements rather than guidance.