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Americans' Reported Use of Face Masks Surges in Past Week

Americans' Reported Use of Face Masks Surges in Past Week

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Since news of the novel coronavirus first broke in the U.S., Americans have received conflicting opinions about the efficacy of face masks in containing the spread of the disease. However, as federal, state and local authorities have increasingly advised -- and in some cases mandated -- the use of face masks in public when social distancing is not possible, Americans have quickly adopted the guidelines.

The Centers for Disease Control officially recommended the use of face masks in public places on April 3. Gallup polling since April 7 finds the percentage of Americans who report that they have worn a mask on their face outside of their homes has increased from 38% to 62% in just one week. An additional 24% of U.S. adults now say they are considering wearing masks outside the home and just 14% say they have not considered it.

Line chart. Percentage of Americans who have worn a mask outside their homes in the past seven days, Apr. 7-14.

The most recent data from Gallup's probability-based April 13-14 web panel show that women and college graduates are more likely than their counterparts to say they have used a mask in the past week.

Additionally, those in the Western and Northeastern regions of the U.S. where the outbreaks have been worst are significantly more likely than those in the Midwest and South to have donned face coverings in public. Likewise, residents of cities and suburbs are more likely than those in more rural areas to have worn masks.

Demographic Subgroup Differences in Americans' Use of Face Masks Outside Home
Wore mask outside
home in past 7 days
Female 67
Male 56
U.S. region
West region 72
Northeast region 70
South region 61
Midwest region 46
Party identificaton
Democrat 75
Independent/Other 58
Republican 48
City 71
Suburb 67
Small town/Rural area 52
College graduate 66
Not college graduate 60
GALLUP PANEL, April 13-14, 2020

Democrats, too, are more likely than Republicans and independents to say they are now using face masks in public. After making the announcement recommending masks be worn, President Donald Trump said he would not be wearing one, which his political base may have taken as an indication that they didn't need to do so either. Less than half (48%) of Republicans say they have worn a mask in the past week, compared with 75% of Democrats and 58% of independents.

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