With mostly Democratic-leaning states moving in recent days to end indoor mask requirements—a decision that President Joe Biden says is “premature”—a strong majority of the country supports the continued wearing of face coverings in bars, restaurants, and schools.
A U.S. survey of nearly 23,000 people of varying ages, education levels, and political affiliations finds that 69 percent of them say masks should continue to be required indoors. The biggest support came from people in states such as Hawaii (85%), California, and New York (both at 80%). The findings suggest masks may remain a routine way of life for some people, either because of high-risk health conditions or to prevent infecting others with the virus that causes COVID-19.
“A large chunk of people will keep them on,” says Northeastern’s David Lazer, university distinguished professor of political science and computer science. The survey was conducted by the Covid States Project, a collaborative effort by researchers from Northeastern, Harvard, Northwestern, and Rutgers universities. The online public opinion poll concluded near the end of January, just as infections and hospitalizations around the country were showing steady improvement. Researchers solely focused their questions on indoor mask-wearing requirements, not on vaccines or other pandemic-related restrictions.