David Lazer, NULab co-director and University Distinguished Professor of political science and computer and information sciences at Northeastern, has just released the January 2021 report of The COVID States Project. Lazer co-authored the findings with colleagues from Northeastern University, Harvard University, Rutgers University, and Northwestern University. The latest survey collected responses from 25,640 people across all 50 states and Washington, D.C, between December 16, 2020 and January 11, 2021. Eighty percent of respondents “very closely” followed recommendations to wear a face mask outside the home. Compared to the results from November and early December, fewer people surveyed had said that in the preceding 24 hours, they visited a gym, restaurant, workplace, or crowded space with people outside their household.
But the survey found that there are still not enough people following public health recommendations to the extent necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19. The latest survey found an upward trend in mask-wearing and social distancing behaviors, but neither are at the level surveys found in the spring. David Lazer told NPR’s Morning Edition that “It’s good news-bad news. 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.” Public support for a move aggressive response to COVID-19 is evident, according to Lazer. The COVID States Project found that from November 2020 to January 2021, 85% of respondents approved of governments asking people to stay at home and avoid large gatherings, and 60% supported requirements that most businesses stay closed.