As the pandemic drags on, vaccination status and mask wearing remain top of mind across the country. Given the differences in individual mindsets on receiving the vaccine, wearing masks, and taking other measures to help slow the pandemic, CivicScience ran a study examining public opinion on the status of mask wearing, as well as public perception about the effectiveness of both masking and the vaccine.
Similar to vaccine status, mask wearing is nearly split into two. According to a survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults, just over half say they wear masks all or some of the time in a public place when it’s not required. While more people wear them than not, the results are still very mixed.
While vaccinated individuals are much more likely to voluntarily wear a mask even if it’s not required, a good portion of them have stopped doing so, perhaps spurred by confidence that the vaccine is enough protection.
The above chart also shows that the recommendation (in many cases an honor system) that unvaccinated people wear masks in public is not being widely followed, at least to some extent.
The following chart shows that nearly 30% of respondents think that vaccinated people should not need to wear a mask as a precautionary measure to protect themselves (or others) against COVID-19. While 37% believe that the vaccinated should wear masks some of the time, 24% say they should still be worn at all times regardless of inoculation status.
When surveying respondents on the same topic, but asking about masking for the unvaccinated, 50% of respondents say unvaccinated individuals should be masking at all times.
The other 40% think the unvaccinated part of the population shouldn’t have to wear a mask at all, or should at least some of the time.
The results are how you’d imagine they’d be when looking at the data split between vaccinated and unvaccinated folks. This further highlights the disparity between Americans when it comes to taking measures to protect public health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those who do not plan to get the vaccine at all have a high likelihood of believing masks are not necessary even if unvaccinated, while those who are vaccinated are the reverse. It paints a picture that those who will not opt for a vaccine are likely less concerned about other measures related to stopping the spread, and moreover the pandemic at large.
Overall, half of the general population believes that masks are at least sometimes necessary once someone is vaccinated. People who believe that masks are still very necessary are more likely to be in lower-income brackets. Higher-earning individuals are much more likely to say masks are not at all necessary. Part of this could be due to job type. If you work a lower-income service job, you likely still view masking of utmost importance.
A slightly higher percentage of the population say they are very confident that masks are a good preventative measure when it comes to preventing COVID’s spread.
But a higher portion of American adults are very confident in vaccines than are very confident in masks.
Although some regions of the country have much lower vaccination rates than others, each region shows similar levels of confidence that vaccines prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, midwest and southern regions are more likely to be homes to people who say they are not sure.
As the pandemic continues, masking will certainly remain a widely used measure across the U.S., but as survey data show, it’s not widely practiced, and opinions differ vastly.