Most Americans Say They'll Keep Masks on Even If Mandates Go Away: Poll

Most Americans in communities with mask requirements say they'll keep wearing face coverings even if leaders get rid of mandates.

A new poll from YouGov/The Economist this week found that 58 percent of Americans living in areas where mask mandates are still imposed will continue to mask up sometimes even if the guidance is removed.

Less than one-third of respondents, 28 percent, said they'd stop wearing masks if that was the case. Thirteen percent of Americans said they weren't sure what course of action they'd take if the mandate were eliminated.

The findings come as an increasing number of states shift their guidelines on COVID-19. California, Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania and other states have announced plans to end their indoor mask mandates. Several states, including New Jersey and Oregon, are also ending mask requirements in schools.

The lifting of requirements comes as the Omicron wave of the virus appears to be subsiding. As of February 9, the 7-day moving average of daily new cases was 215,418—a 42 percent decrease compared to the previous week, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

But the policy changes are in contrast to the recommendations from the CDC. The federal agency continues to urge Americans to wear face masks indoors and social distance when possible.

The Biden administration has said that it is following the CDC's lead on the issue, even as more Democratic leaders move away from mask requirements.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky acknowledged during a White House COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday that there are many questions about the agency's mask guidance.

"As we see the Omicron wave continue to wane, we know that you may have questions regarding what prevention strategies are really necessary for this moment, especially as people are so eager to remove them," Walensky said.

"As I said last week, we are looking at all of our guidance based not only on where we are right now in the pandemic, but also on the tools we now have at our disposal—such as vaccines, boosters, tests and treatments—and our latest understanding of the disease," she added.

An overwhelming majority of Americans, 77 percent, reported being ready to return to normal life.

But just one-third of Americans polled said it's now safe to return to normal life activities, while one-quarter of respondents said it'll be safe to do so at some point in 2022. Twenty-seven percent of respondents don't think it'll be safe to resume normal activities until after 2022.

YouGov/The Economist polled 1,500 U.S. citizens between February 12 and February 15. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.

Newsweek reached out to the CDC for additional comment but didn't receive a response before publication.

Most Americans Will Keep Wearing Masks: Poll
Most Americans in communities with mask requirements say they’ll keep wearing face coverings even if leaders get rid of mandates. Above, a man wearing a mask walks past a shop on September 30, 2020, in New York City. Alexi Rosenfeld/GETTY IMAGES