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Mask-wearing, social distancing improve, but too slowly, survey shows

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(Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 21: People wear face mask at an outdoor dining table in Bryant Park on December 21, 2020 in New York City.

NPR, January 2021

Americans are being more careful to avoid catching and spreading the coronavirus but are still not being careful enough to slow the pandemic, especially with worrisome, apparently more contagious new variants looming.

That’s the conclusion of the latest findings, released Friday, from the largest national survey tracking behavior during the coronavirus pandemic. “It’s good news-bad news,” says David Lazer of Northeastern University, who is helping run the survey with colleagues at Harvard, Rutgers and Northwestern universities. “The good news is we’ve improved a lot in terms of mask-wearing and social distancing. The bad news is, to bend the curve they really need to be much better,” Lazer says.

Lazer’s consortium has been surveying about 20,000 people in all 50 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia since last spring. The latest data come from 25,640 people who were surveyed Dec. 16 and Jan. 11.

Mask-wearing reached an all-time high of about 80%, the survey found. In addition, a wide range of other behaviors also improved. For example, there were declines in the percentages of people saying that in the past 24 hours they went to work, the gym or a restaurant or spent time in crowded places or a room with people outside their household.

Continue reading at NPR.

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