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Mask wear decreases even when COVID spreads

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By Ernie Mundell

HealthDay reporter

TUESDAY, December 22, 2020 (HealthDay News) – Although more Americans say they know someone who has been sick or even died from COVID-19, there has been a drop in the percentage of those who say they still wear a mask when they leave their home.

Two-thirds (66%) of American adults surveyed in a new HealthDay /Harris Poll said they “always” wear a mask when leaving their homes and are unable to get away socially, up from 72% in an October poll. The proportion of Americans who now say they wear a mask outside the home is close to the 61% reported in an August survey conducted by The Harris Poll.

The new survey of 2,027 adults aged 18 and over was conducted online December 8-10 by The Harris Poll.

The decline in mask wear is surprising, given that the same survey finds the proportion of Americans directly linked to COVID-19 is on the rise.

Almost two-thirds of U.S. adults (63%) said they or someone they knew (including acquaintances) had been hospitalized with or died from COVID-19, and half (50 %) said they had had direct experience with COVID -19. Including:

  • Have personally had (9%) or been hospitalized (5%) due to COVID-19.
  • Live in a household with someone who had it (8%).
  • Have a close friend / family member / loved one outside of their household who has had it (42%), was hospitalized (23%) or died (16%).

Overall, more than two in five American adults (43%) now know someone who has been hospitalized or has died from COVID-19.

“As COVID-19 cases and deaths in the United States continue to increase, the data from our current investigation puts this heartbreaking reality into a deeper perspective,” said Kathy Steinberg, vice president of research for public broadcast at Harris Poll.

“The majority of Americans have a close connection to the serious consequences of the virus, since 43% know someone who has been hospitalized or died of COVID-19, compared to 36% just two months ago in October,” a- she noted.


“Despite these frightening and shared experiences, the proportion of Americans who frequently wear a mask is declining, especially for men and young adults,” Steinberg said. “It will be crucial to reinforce the continued importance of masks and social distancing Even like vaccine distribution begins. “

As seen in previous polls, partisanship is closely tied to decisions about mask use. In the new poll, 71% of Democrats say they “always” wear a mask when they leave their homes, compared to 61% of Republicans.

However, the constant wearing of masks has decreased among all parties since October, when a poll put rates at 82% among Democrats, 66% among Republicans and 69% among independents.

Age and gender also seemed to matter in decisions about mask use. According to the December poll, while 80% of people aged 65 and over said they always wear a mask outside the home, that number fell to 77% for those 55 to 64; 62% for 45 to 54 year olds; 64% for 35 to 44 year olds; and only 53% for 18 to 34 year olds.

Women (72%) were more likely than men (59%) to say that they “always” wear a mask, while men were more likely to say “rarely / never” (11% vs. 5%).

An expert had theories as to why mask wearing is on the decline as more and more pandemic.

“While it is not clear why there is a lag between less stringent mask wearing and increased exposure to loved ones sick or dying from COVID, some theories are being considered,” said Dr Teresa Murray Amato, President of emergency medicine in Long Island Jewish. Forest Hills, New York.

“The pandemic has been active in the United States for several months and people have had to undergo quarantine, social isolation and disruption of normal routines,” she said.

“Wearing a mask for some means having to recognize that we are still in a pandemic and that life has not returned to what it was. For others, hearing about the vaccine rollout may represent l ‘hope and the feeling that we’re not going to have to wear masks anymore,’ Amato added.


“This finding is troubling for those of us working in the healthcare field because we know that wearing a mask will significantly reduce the risk of transmitting and contracting the infection,” she said. . “And although we are very optimistic about the vaccines, we do not have enough data to know whether vaccination will stop the transmission of the virus. “

Another expert pointed out that wearing a mask is more important than ever.

“Now that we know a lot more about how to treat the disease at an early stage, the fact that there are now therapies that help in the early management of the disease and that the vaccine is there and starting to be administered gives us real hope for a way out of this pandemic, ”said Dr. Theodore Strange, interim president of medicine at Staten Island University Hospital in New York.

“It will take a few more months, if not a year; but not doing all of our parts individually to reduce the spread and potentially devastating effects for some is not fair to ourselves, our families, our friends and our community as a whole. together because we come to this point of hope to end this scourge, ”added Strange.

More information

There is more on how you can help prevent the transmission of the novel coronavirus to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCES: HealthDay /Harris Poll, December 8-10, 2020; Kathy Steinberg, vice president of research for public release, The Harris Poll; Teresa Murray Amato, MD, president, emergency medicine, Long Island Jewish Forest Hills, New York; Theodore Strange, MD, Acting President, Medicine, Staten Island University Hospital, New York City

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