Poll: Majority of Americans Are Not Wearing Masks Outdoors

People, few wearing facemasks, walk on the boardwalk at Hampton Beach in Hampton, New Hamp

A majority of Americans are not wearing masks in outdoor settings, a Gallup poll released this week found.

The Gallup survey, taken July 20-August 2, among 7,632 adults, asked, “How often do you wear a mask when outside home … and you cannot socially distance?”

Only 47 percent said they “always” or “usually” wear a mask in outdoor settings when they cannot socially distance, compared to 86 percent who indicated that they wear masks in indoor settings in the same scenario.

Women are more likely than men to wear masks in an outdoor setting, the survey found, 54 percent to 39 percent. Democrats are also more likely to wear face coverings in an outdoor setting, with a majority, 64 percent, indicating that they “always” or “usually” do so. Only 43 percent of independents said the same, followed by 23 percent of Republicans.

Notably, a majority of adults 65 and over — the highest risk age group in terms of contracting the Wuhan coronavirus — said they “always” or “usually” wear a mask in those outdoor settings. Forty-six percent of those 18-44 and 40 percent of those 45-64 said the same.

Per Gallup:

In a separate question, Gallup asked Americans more generally if they had used a face mask within the last seven days, which 91% of U.S. adults say they have done. However, a partisan gap persists, with Democrats substantially more likely to say they have worn a mask outside in the last week (99%), compared with 80% of Republicans and 91% of independents.

Among Democrats, 96% or more have reported using face masks since late May. For independents, roughly nine in ten report having used masks since mid-July. Republicans’ use of face masks has steadily increased since the end of June, when 66% reported using face masks in the last week, to the current 80%. This increase has resulted in a shrinking, but still apparent, partisan gap on the issue.

Some executive mask mandates, such as D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s (D), require individuals to wear masks in both indoor and outdoor settings. D.C.’s order instructs individuals to wear a mask “when they leave their homes if they are likely to come into contact with another person for more than a fleeting moment.” The order applies to those ages three and up and exempts “on-duty” government employees. Violators can face up to $1,000 in fines.

While skeptics continue to cast doubt over the general effectiveness of masks, particularly give Dr. Anthony Fauci’s flip-flop, President Trump has encouraged the general public to wear a mask:

“We’re asking everybody that when you are not able to socially distance, wear a mask, get a mask,” Trump said last month. “Whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact, they’ll have an effect, and we need everything we can get.”

Trump, however, has affirmed that he will not implement a nationwide mask mandate.

“No, I want people to have a certain freedom, and I don’t believe in that,” Trump told Fox News Sunday last month. “No, and I don’t agree with the statement that if everybody wears a mask, everything disappears.”


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