It is said that a picture tells a thousand words.

This picture tells an even quicker story that can save lives: “Masks work.”

The backstory: Kansas Governor Laura Kelly issued a mask mandate on July 2, 2020.

The rationale: That was two days before Independence Day, the holiday weekend when she and state public health officials anticipated health citizens would abandon their personal efforts to physically distance and cover faces to avoid contracting or spreading the coronavirus. This was the message directly communicated to U.S. residents by the White House Coronavirus Task Force that week before Independence Day.

The backlash:  There are 105 counties in Kansas.

Over 90 of them opted out of the mask mandate.

The map of Kansas counties illustrates counties that without mask mandates (in white), counties that did not rescind mask mandates (in blue), and counties that had mixed responses (did not opt out but did not enforce).

The health outcome:  A team of researchers from the Institute for Policy & Social Research (IPSR) at the University of Kansas conducted a study into the effect of mask mandates in the state, comparing counties that adopted the Governor’s masking order and those areas that rescinded the order, opting out.

Donna Ginther, director of IPSR and professor of economics at the KU, told the Lawrence World Journal,  “The mask-wearing didn’t stop people from moving around. It didn’t stop people’s movements, but it stopped the spread of the disease…We all want normal, but normal’s not going to come for many more months. We have to do a second best, and (wearing a mask) seems like a really good candidate.”

The lesson: Masks work.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:  Follow the science.

And as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young might offer, “Teach Your Children….math.”

Lesson 2 for our kids (and ourselves): learn from history.

Here is a conversation recorded on July 2, 2020, between Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House Coronavirus Task Force member and Director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, with Dr. Howard Bauchner who has convened hundreds of conversations like this on his Coronavirus Q&A podcasts with public health leaders conducted throughout the coronavirus pandemic on the JAMA Network.

Finally, wear the mask correctly. This last graphic comes from my friends at GoInvo studio teaching us about how facial masks help you and me.

Think of face masks as the new cool wearable tech.

Postscript 3 hours after posting…

My friend and colleague Richard Schwartz, guru of health care communicating, pointed me to this current New Yorker cartoon by Daryl Seitchik on the “scariest Halloween costume: the trick or treater without the mask.”

Signs of our pandemic times…