A woman wearing a mask walks through an empty Times Square following the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in New York City, New York – March 19, 2020 (Shutterstock)
By Carolyn Crist, WebMD
October 29, 2020 — More Americans wore face masks this summer than in the spring, but they were less likely to follow other public health measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, according to a new survey released Tuesday from the CDC.
In addition, younger people between ages 18-29 were less likely to wear face masks or follow the recommended behaviors.
“Improved communication and policy priorities are needed to promote recommended COVID-19 mitigation behaviors, particularly among young adults,” the CDC COVID-19 Response Team wrote.
The team surveyed 2,000 adults between April and June. In April, about 78% of U.S. adults said they wore face masks, which increased to 89% in June. In addition, most adults said they had canceled or postponed social plans and avoided most restaurants. Other behaviors — such as handwashing, social distancing and avoiding crowds — remained the same or declined during the time period.
Those who were 60 and older were most likely to follow the recommendations, and those between ages 18-29 were least likely to adhere. Between April to June, mask-wearing increased from about 84% to 92% in older adults and 70% to 86% in younger adults.
Older adults might be more concerned about the coronavirus and their higher risk of having severe COVID-19, the researchers wrote. Younger adults might be less likely to follow the recommended behaviors for “social, developmental and practical factors,” they added.
“There’s more we must do to reduce infection, but that’s an astounding increase — from 0% in less than 8 months,” Thomas Frieden, a former CDC director, told NPR.
Importantly, those who said they wore masks were more likely to follow other recommendations. Those who didn’t wear masks were less likely to follow the other recommendations by June.
“Significant declines in self-reported mitigation behaviors among those not reporting mask use suggests that a minority of persons might be increasingly resistant to COVID-19 mitigation behaviors,” the researchers wrote “Or unable to engage in mitigation behaviors because of the constraints introduced by their return to work, school or other settings.”