WEST LAFAYETTE — Researchers from Purdue University and Oklahoma State University’s agricultural economics departments conducted a nationally representative survey of 1,198 U.S. residents to understand beliefs and knowledge regarding the role of masks in relation to the spread of COVID-19, as well as perceptions of the most important places to wear a mask.
More than three-quarters (83 percent) of those surveyed said they believe masks should play a role in the U.S. response to COVID-19 and rated public transportation, grocery/food stores and schools as the most important locations for mask usage.
“We’re still in the beginning of understanding what U.S. residents see as the role for masks in reopening society, as well as why they do or do not comply,” said Nicole Olynk Widmar, professor and associate department head of agricultural economics at Purdue and co-author of the study.
Even as a majority of the respondents in this study agreed that masks have a role in the COVID-19 response, their knowledge and beliefs of mask usage varied. Respondents were asked whether they “agree” with the following mask-related statements: It helps prevent the virus from spreading (70 percent); it helps prevent me from getting the virus (53 percent); it helps prevent me from spreading the virus (64 percent); and it will help prevent future lockdowns in my community related to COVID-19 (47 percent).
The study uncovered that residents of states with high total case counts prior to data collection more often agreed that mask wearing would prevent them from spreading COVID-19 (66 percent versus 60 percent) and prevent future lockdowns (51 percent versus 41 percent).
Residents of states spiking in case counts in the month of June more often disagreed with mask usage for most of the statements evaluated.