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Bob Schoeni
Bob Schoeni

Mask use low when people visit with friends

Michigan News 3/31/21

While nearly all Americans use a mask at some point each week, very few consistently wear their mask during many common potentially risky activities.

This is true even among adults whose older age or preexisting health conditions put them at higher risk for severe complications from COVID-19, according to a University of Michigan study.

The study, published in JAMA Network Open, was based on a national survey of Americans who reported their perceived chance of COVID-19 infection and their risk of severe consequences if infected. The study also examined whether adults with more risk factors took actions to lower their risk of contracting the disease, such as avoiding crowds, practicing social distancing and wearing masks during visits with friends or visits to grocery stores.

The researchers found that more than half of the respondents reported wearing a mask consistently in only one activity: shopping at a grocery store or pharmacy. When respondents visited friends at their homes or were within 6 feet of someone they did not live with, they much less frequently reported wearing a mask.

“We found that while wearing a mask sometime in the past week was nearly universal, persistent use was uncommon for most specific activities, including activities that were done by many adults each week,” said Robert Schoeni, a research professor at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. “The high prevalence of mask wearing at grocery stores and pharmacies may reflect mask requirements at these businesses.”

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