While renewed mask mandates and updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have received heavy pushback from critics, a poll conducted by the Washington Post and the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University has found that many want to continue relying on masks, even in a post-pandemic world.
According to the poll, released on Sunday, 67% of Americans plan on utilizing masks in public if they feel sick. At the start of the pandemic in the spring of last year, the CDC’s original guidance on masks was to only wear one if you are feeling coronavirus symptoms. They have since pulled back their mask guidance for vaccinated Americans, and subsequently updated that guidance to say masks are required, even for the vaccinated, in what they deem to be high-risk areas.
Over 30% of respondents said they would mask up if they are sick once the country is through the pandemic. Over 50% also said they would not wear face coverings in crowded areas, something health officials have at times recommended, especially for indoor settings, due to the increase in cases around the country and the spread of the delta variant.
Over 40%, however, say they will wear masks in “crowded places” even after the pandemic.
Republicans have mainly led the charge against reinstated mask mandates, though the Post polling appears to show a fair share of support for masks on both sides of the political aisle, with more than half of Republicans saying they will mask up if they are sick, while 80% of Democrats said the same.
The differences between political affiliations showed more in questioning about whether respondents’ lives had “returned to normal” yet, with numerous states and venues rolling back restrictions and opening for business once more.
Only 15% of self-described Democrats said their lives had “fully returned to normal,” compared to 48% of Republicans. Over 40% of Democrats believe their lives will completely move on from the pandemic in the next year, while 20% believe only another three months are needed. Republicans are more likely, according to the survey, to have attended a crowded indoor gathering in the new year than Democrats, many of whom remain fearful of lagging vaccination rates and variants.
The Post poll was conducted among 1,000 adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4%.
Health officials have spent the past weeks promoting vaccinations and warning of a likely surge of coronavirus cases in the fall. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, warned just this week that he believes coronavirus cases could reach 200,000 a day.
The US has a seven-day moving average of approximately 90,000 new cases this week, according to Johns Hopkins University data, which is over 30% higher than the previous seven-day average.
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