Amidst delta and omicron variant surges over the past year and waves of CDC recommendations, mask-wearing and mask requirements seem constantly in flux. Now in Spring 2022, statewide mask mandates have been lifted and masks are no longer required on public transportation (including domestic flights, trains, and rideshare).
In a climate where mask-wearing is shifting from a collective public health response to an individual’s judgment call, the question is posed: will Americans still wear masks as new COVID variants continue to arise or will they ditch mask-wearing in public spaces for good?
To take a pulse, Aeris polled over 2,800 people across demographics and 43 states in mid-March 2022 (right on the heels of mandates lifting) to gauge how many Americans will still wear masks even with mask mandates lifted around the U.S. Mask-wearing insights were gleaned by state, gender, generation, and vaccination status. Additionally, we asked survey respondents about where they think mandates should be in place, where they currently still wear a mask, who they’re more likely to wear a mask around, and how they feel about providing proof of vaccination to enter certain locations.
Read on to find out how many Americans are still wearing masks and where they’re wearing them.
Mask-Wearing Statistics in the U.S.
Overall, even though mandates have been lifted, 62% of people say they still wear a mask in indoor public spaces, while 38% of people say they do not. Several factors including the spike in BA.2 omicron subvariant cases could contribute to these high mask-wearing rates around the U.S. When we zoom in on mask-wearing by vaccination status, the majority of vaccinated (68%) and boosted (75%) people say they still wear a mask in indoor public spaces. Vaccinated people are over twice as likely as unvaccinated people to still be wearing masks indoors.
A slight generational divide exists as well. Gen Z is the generation most likely to still be wearing masks––66% say they still wear one in indoor public spaces, compared to only 55% of Gen Xers who say the same. When it comes to gender, women are more likely to still be wearing masks than men.
Mask-Wearing by State
Next, we asked an equal number of respondents in 43 states if they were still wearing masks in indoor public spaces, even with mask mandates lifted. During the time the survey ran in mid-March 2022, Hawaii, Washington, and Oregon still had mask mandates in place, so it makes sense that they top the list; however, statewide mandates in all other states had been lifted.
Massachusetts, California, Maine, Maryland, and North Carolina have the highest percentage of residents who are still wearing masks in indoor public spaces (with mask mandates lifted in those states during the time the survey ran), while Florida, Indiana, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Kansas have the lowest percentage of residents who are still wearing masks in public. The interactive map below shows the share of survey respondents in each state that are still wearing masks.
Locations Where Americans are Still Wearing Masks
Then, we asked respondents where they think mask mandates should be in place as well as which locations they currently still wear a mask, in order to compare the two. 75% of people think mask mandates should be in place in hospitals/healthcare facilities and 64% think masks should be required on public transportation. On April 18, 2022, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) no longer enforced mask requirements on planes, trains, buses, and in U.S. airports, but regardless of the federal ruling, the majority of people still feel that the mask rule should apply to public transit for now.
Surprisingly, 58% of people think masks should be required in schools, yet only 31% of people say they actually wear them there. We see a similar trend with event venues, churches, workplaces, gyms, and bars––where opinions about where masks should be worn and actual mask-wearing rates don’t align.
According to survey responses, in 2020, 73% of people felt uncomfortable without a mask in indoor public spaces, whereas today in 2022, only 45% of people feel uncomfortable without a mask in indoor public spaces, which leads us to wonder: are there any people Americans are more likely to wear masks around?
Overall, people are more likely to wear a mask around an elderly person than an unvaccinated adult or child. 66% of people are more likely to wear a mask around an elderly person (i.e., someone age 65+), 61% are more likely to wear a mask around an unvaccinated adult, and 58% are more likely to wear one around an unvaccinated child.
When we look again at mask-wearing in specific locations, only a slight majority of parents (53%) support mask mandates (for students, teachers, administrators, etc.) in schools, while 47% of parents do not. Wearing masks in schools continues to be a hotly-debated and divisive issue (especially where immunocompromised children are concerned), so it makes sense that survey respondents with school-aged children are practically split down the middle on this topic.
Lastly, while many continue to work remotely or hybrid in this post-pandemic landscape, 4.7 of 10 employees who will go into the office will do so in a mask, despite their workplace not requiring it.
Proof of Vaccination Statistics
After the vaccine rollout, many businesses started to require patrons to show proof of vaccination (via their vaccination card or a photo of their card) or a negative COVID-19 test for entry, which fueled another wave of positive (and negative) feedback. Overall, 67% of people support when indoor public spaces require proof of vaccination. Further, 58% of Gen Zers and 60% of vaccinated people feel more comfortable without a mask in indoor public spaces that require proof of vaccination. Only 13% of unvaccinated people support this type of vaccination verification.
Circling back to our original question: will Americans still wear masks in a mandate-free society? Survey results say yes, but mask-wearing in the future will most likely be based on individual risk and personal preference, rather than government mandates. Regardless of mandates, it appears that a significant portion of the population will continue to wear masks in the long term.
Masks offer protection in indoor spaces, as do HEPA air purifiers. Aeris air purifiers can help clean the air in your living spaces and ward off airborne pollutants. Compare our air purifiers to see which is the best fit for your home.