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Americans' Face Mask Usage Varies Greatly by Demographics

Americans' Face Mask Usage Varies Greatly by Demographics

Story Highlights

  • 44% "always," 28% "very often" wear mask outside their homes
  • Three in 10 "sometimes," "rarely" or "never" use a mask
  • Women, Democrats, Northeasterners most likely to always use mask in public

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- It has been more than three months since the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reversed course and recommended that Americans wear face masks in public to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Gallup has been measuring U.S. adults' use of face masks since early April and has found nearly nine in 10 say they have used one in the past week. Yet, new data on how often masks are being used reveals that less than half of Americans are heeding health officials' guidance and always covering their nose and mouth when in public, especially when social distancing is difficult to maintain.

Forty-four percent of U.S. adults say they "always" wear a mask when outside their homes, and 28% say they do so "very often." At the same time, three in 10 report doing so less often, including 11% "sometimes," 4% "rarely" and 14% "never."


Donut chart. Americans' reports of how often they wear a face mask when out in public. Forty-four percent of Americans say they always wear a mask when outside their homes, 28% say they do so very often, 11% sometimes do, 4% rarely and 14% never.

These latest findings are from the probability-based online Gallup Panel survey conducted June 29-July 5, as COVID-19 cases were surging in several states, including Florida, Texas, Arizona and California. With cases nationwide continuing to spike, many public health officials and politicians are imploring Americans to wear masks. Notably, a number of states recently began to mandate the use of masks when in public. Yet, it may fall on deaf ears for some Americans who are resistant to using them.

While majorities of women (54%), Democrats (61%), Northeasterners (54%), and those with annual household incomes under $36,000 (51%) say they always use masks outside their homes, their counterparts do so less often. Still, with just one exception, majorities in each of these subgroups -- as well as education and age groups -- say they wear a mask in public at least very often.

The one exception is Republicans, among whom a majority say they wear masks infrequently -- either sometimes (18%), rarely (9%) or never (27%). Although President Donald Trump has been reluctant to wear one in public, other Republican leaders have come out in support of using them.

Americans' Use of Face Masks in Public Among Demographic Subgroups
How often do you wear a mask when outside your home?
Always Very often Sometimes Rarely Never
% % % % %
U.S. adults 44 28 11 4 14
Male 34 29 13 4 20
Female 54 27 8 3 8
Party Identification
Republican 24 22 18 9 27
Independent 41 27 12 2 18
Democrat 61 33 4 1 1
U.S. Region
Northeast 54 23 10 4 8
South 47 26 11 3 13
West 42 33 10 4 10
Midwest 33 29 11 4 23
Annual Household Income
Less than $36,000 51 25 9 1 14
$36,000-less than $90,000 43 26 12 4 15
$90,000 or more 44 30 10 3 13
College graduate 49 36 8 2 4
Not college graduate 41 24 12 5 18
18-34 years old 42 34 10 5 9
35-54 years old 42 27 11 3 16
55 and older 47 24 11 3 14
GALLUP PANEL, June 29-July 5, 2020

Bottom Line

Although a broad majority of Americans are wearing masks in public at least very often, fewer are doing so all the time as recommended by the CDC and other health officials. Since April, a growing minority of U.S. adults are eschewing mask usage.

The issue has been politically charged from the start when Trump announced that he would not wear a mask at the same press briefing when the recommendation was made. Yet, as infection rates are rising sharply and Trump has now worn a mask in public, more Americans may follow suit.

Learn more about how the Gallup Panel works.

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