KDHE's Norman stands by data supporting masks to stop COVID-19 spread

Posted at 5:21 PM, Aug 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-13 10:08:06-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When asked if data supports that face masks have helped stop the spread of COVID-19 in Kansas counties that require them, Kansas Department of Health and Environment Director Dr. Lee Norman doubled down on comments he first made last week.

"There’s no question the data is solid," Norman said Wednesday during his latest briefing from Topeka.

Norman presented a graph comparing rate of infection and new cases trends in the counties with mask mandates compared to counties with no mandate last week.

The KDHE data he presented showed counties with masks were seeing a decline in new COVID-19 cases, but some people took issue with graph and data and said Norman “misled” people.

Norman reiterated the data underpinning his statement Wednesday, noting there's been a “34.4% reduction in the masks mandate counties, 0.7% increase in the 90 counties that have no mask mandates," he said.

But Norman did allow that the way the information was presented might have caused confusion, so he would make changes to how it's presented.

“I know that my graph was misunderstood and, in retrospect, I would redraw it different the next time, because those of us that are scientists and financial people understand that when you have two different axes working at the same time that our eyes attract to that,” Norman said.

He also said he doesn't have an agenda in presenting the information other than to inform people to make good decisions regarding their health and the public's health.

“There was no purpose in being deceptive at all," Norman said. "I think it was misunderstood and I would reconstruct it differently next time."