Effects of New York’s Executive Order on Face Mask Use on COVID-19 Infections and Mortality: A Modeling Study

Mingwang Shen, Jian Zu, Christopher K. Fairley, José A. Pagán, Bart Ferket, Bian Liu, Stella S. Yi, Earle Chambers, Guoqiang Li, Yuming Guo, Libin Rong, Yanni Xiao, Guihua Zhuang, Alexis Zebrowski, Brendan G. Carr, Yan Li, Lei Zhang

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17 Citations (Scopus)


There is growing evidence on the effect of face mask use in controlling the spread of COVID-19. However, few studies have examined the effect of local face mask policies on the pandemic. In this study, we developed a dynamic compartmental model of COVID-19 transmission in New York City (NYC), which was the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the USA. We used data on daily and cumulative COVID-19 infections and deaths from the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to calibrate and validate our model. We then used the model to assess the effect of the executive order on face mask use on infections and deaths due to COVID-19 in NYC. Our results showed that the executive order on face mask use was estimated to avert 99,517 (95% CIs 72,723–126,312) COVID-19 infections and 7978 (5692–10,265) deaths in NYC. If the executive order was implemented 1 week earlier (on April 10), the averted infections and deaths would be 111,475 (81,593–141,356) and 9017 (6446–11,589), respectively. If the executive order was implemented 2 weeks earlier (on April 3 when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended face mask use), the averted infections and deaths would be 128,598 (94,373–162,824) and 10,515 (7540–13,489), respectively. Our study provides public health practitioners and policymakers with evidence on the importance of implementing face mask policies in local areas as early as possible to control the spread of COVID-19 and reduce mortality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-204
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Urban Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Mitigation strategy
  • Non-pharmaceutical intervention
  • Urban health

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