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USF professor says people following mask mandates helped prevent around 1.5 million COVID-19 cases


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Face coverings and masks are the new accessory, and those who wear them know the importance.

“Outside, no. Inside, definitely, especially if I’m around like elderly people,” said Megan Botsch of Tampa.

Her friend agrees.

“Even if it’s not fully protecting you to the hundredth percent, at least at the same time, you’re kind of getting the sense of, okay I’m doing my part to help the community and help slow down all the COVID cases,” Sharon Okechukwu said.

According to University of South Florida Health professor Dr. Edwin Michael, masks are helping a lot.

This week, Michael and his colleagues shared modeling which shows how nearly 1.5 million COVID-19 cases were prevented in the Tampa Bay area thanks to people following mask mandates.

“That would be the cumulative numbers of people that would have been infected if the masks mandate was not implemented,” Michael said to 8 On Your Side.

He explained that Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Polk Counties will have around 140,000 coronavirus cases by next week. That could have hit the high, around 1.5 million cases if there were no requirements, he said.

“The message is, all of us can help just wearing the mask. And that can stop the spread,” the professor said.

Something Botsch and Okechukwu will continue to do.

“I’ll just show my respects and wear it. Other than that, being outside I don’t think it’s putting anyone at risk if I don’t touch anything,” Botsch said.

On Thursday, The Florida Department of Health reported more than 10,800 new cases, its highest single-day increase since July.


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