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Is Indoor Mask-Wearing Still Popular?

Most Democrat-leaning states have moved to eliminate the need for indoor masks in recent days – a decision President Joe Biden called “premature” – with a strong majority in the country supporting continuing to cover faces in bars, restaurants and schools.

A U.S. Survey Of the approximately 23,000 people of all ages, education levels and political affiliations, 69 percent said masks should be worn indoors. States like Hawaii (85%), California and New York (both 80%) received the most support from people in the state.

Research shows that masks can be a regular way of life for some people, either because of high-risk health conditions or to prevent others from being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

David Ledger, a distinguished professor of political science and computer science, said it was an “interesting puzzle” as to why the CDC was pushing for states to wear indoor masks when states returned their masks. Photo by Adam Glanzmann / Northeastern University.

“A large portion of the people will be put on them,” Northeast says David LaserUniversity Professor of Political Science and Computer Science.

Conducts the survey Covid State Project, Northeast, a collaborative effort by researchers at Harvard, Northwestern, and Rutgers University. The online poll was completed in late January, just as infections and hospital admissions across the country are showing steady improvement.

The researchers focused their questions entirely on the need to wear internal masks, not on vaccines or other epidemic-related restrictions.

The California Indoor Mask Mandate, which expired Feb. 15, was launched in December amid rapid spread and highly contagious Omicron variant. Immunizations still require masks indoors. People inside the hospital as well as those who board public buses and trains must be covered.

The mask will remain in effect in California schools until at least Feb. 28, during which time health authorities will re-evaluate it based on several metrics.

“Masking has been a valuable tool to keep schools afloat if circulation is high,” Dr. Mark Ghali, California’s top health official, said at a press briefing. Despite having 12 percent U.S. schoolchildren, the state has had only one percent of the country’s school closures.

New York, meanwhile, ended its statewide masking requirement in early February, but left it up to local government and business to continue covering needs. The governors of Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware and Oregon have relaxed similar requirements.

According to a newly published study from Northeast and partner universities, groundbreaking infections in winter can cast doubt on the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, leading to stagnation in childhood immunization rates.  AP Photo / Name Y Huh

Biden says these actions are “probably premature, but it’s a tough call.” Head of Disease Control and Prevention Center, Rochelle WalenskyAdded that “now is not the moment” to drop the mask mandate in schools and other public places.

The northeast laser says multiple connections are being disconnected.

“It’s an interesting puzzle that the Fed is still recommending mask mandates, at the same time studies show strong support for indoor mask mandates across the country, and yet we see this need rollback in many states,” Laser said.

In a further twist, opinion polls found high support in several Republican-leaning states, such as Florida, Georgia and Texas — 69% or more, where the requirement for a mask was actually prohibited.

“None of these states are overly red,” Laser says, reflecting a more diverse population than most people think.

Overall, however, Republicans strongly disapprove of the indoor mask requirement compared to Democrats (54% to 13%). Disagreement was even stronger in rural areas of the United States than in cities, where more Democrats live.

The latest trend to end the mask-wearing mandate of blue-state governors may be a recognition that people are simply ready to move on with their lives. They could also be seen as a political game ahead of the midterm congressional elections in November.

But there are also innate political risks to the GOP for its anti-mask stance.

“We see the Democratic side’s concern about being a Kiljoy party,” Ledger said. “However, the data would suggest that there is a political risk of having an anti-mask mandate because it is the opposite of what the majority wants.”

For media searchPlease contact media@northeastern.edu.




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