While much of the country has seen a dangerous swell of new coronavirus infections over the past several weeks, many states have watched those numbers steadily decline. Though some attribute the disparity between the two to broader reopening strategies or a natural ebb and flow of the virus, it seems the reason for this stark divide could come down to one crucial difference: whether or not those states require citizens to wear face masks in public.

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, 16 states that recommend, but don't require, residents to don face masks in public have seen a shocking 84 percent rise in new coronavirus cases over the past two weeks. In contrast, 11 states that do require residents to wear masks in public have seen their new case counts fall by 25 percent over that same period of time.

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