The use of face masks during a pandemic and compliance with state and local mandates has been a divisive issue in the United States. We document variation in face masking violation rates involving police enforcement in New York City and examine the association between police-enforced face masking violations and COVID-19-related death rates. We assemble a Zone Improvement Plan (ZIP) code–level data set from the New York City Open Data, Department of Health, and the American Community Survey (2014–2018). We use maps to demonstrate the spatial patterning of police-enforced face masking violation rates and COVID-19-related death rates. Using a Bayesian spatial analysis approach to model police-enforced face masking violations, we find considerable variation in police-enforced face masking violation rates and COVID-19-related death rates across New York City and similarities in their spatial distribution, with higher rates for both measures found in Brooklyn and the Bronx. The positive association between police-enforced face masking violation rates and COVID-19-related death rates holds after including other covariates. The percentage of non-Hispanic Blacks, Hispanics, and households with limited English proficiency are positively associated with police-enforced face masking violations. This study extends the COVID-19 literature by reporting more aggressive enforcement of face masking rules in minority and limited-English-proficiency communities.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Earth-Surface Processes