Sweden’s initial Covid surge was blamed on those lax policies, but Sweden stuck to them and actually discouraged masks in most situations. As indicated on the graph, surveys during the pandemic showed that fewer than 10 percent of Swedes bothered to wear masks. In Germany, by contrast, more than 80 percent did so, but look at the similar trajectories of the daily Covid death toll in both countries from the summer of 2020 through March of this year.

Eleven states never mandated masks, while the other 39 states enforced mandates. The mandates typically began early in the pandemic in 2020 and remained until at least the summer of 2021, with some extending into 2022. The black line on the graph shows the weekly rate of Covid cases in all the states with mask mandates that week, while the orange line shows the rate in all the states without mandates.