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Experts urge universal mask-wearing to fight omicron, but behavior varies widely

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Portland Press Herald, January 2022

In one local hair salon, no one–two hairdressers and three customers–wore a mask. The workers in a tire store and the servers in a chain restaurant also were maskless. Inside a department store and two grocery stores, on the other hand, workers were masked up and most customers were, too, although some strolled the aisles without faces covered. And in Portland’s Old Port, the majority of shoppers wore masks even as they walked outdoors on congested, snowy sidewalks.

A recent swing through Portland businesses reveals wildly varying policies and behaviors when it comes to mask-wearing nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic. And it underscores the challenge facing health officials as they try to persuade a mask-weary public to once again cover mouths and noses in all public, indoor settings–whether they are vaccinated or not.

“Generally we can see a decline in protective behaviors everywhere post-vaccination,” David Lazer, a researcher with The COVID States Project and Political Science Professor at Northeastern University said in an email. Mask wearing in particular has plummeted, Lazer said.

Continue reading at Portland Press Herald.

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