CR Survey: Most Americans Not Ready to Ditch Masks
Restrictions are being lifted, people want to get back to “normal,” but many still feel the need to take precautions
Mask wearing has been one of the most controversial aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic. But most Americans aren’t ready to take off their masks in public—for some, not even once they’re vaccinated or mask mandates are lifted in their area—according to a new Consumer Reports nationally representative survey (PDF) of 2,144 American adults.
Forty-one percent of Americans said they’d want to hear experts say it’s safe before they’ll stop wearing masks, and 36 percent would need to see decreased cases of COVID-19 in their local areas. Nearly one-fifth of Americans said they saw themselves continuing to don a mask in public for some time into the future.
Just 29 percent said getting their COVID shot is something that would make them comfortable going maskless, and only 25 percent said the same about mask mandates.
Other Findings From CR’s Survey
Confidence in Vaccines Continues to Grow
• More than 7 out of 10 Americans say they’re somewhat or very confident that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. That overall number is similar to what it was in a prior CR survey from January, but a greater proportion of people say they’re “very confident"—33 percent in March vs. 25 percent in January.
• Fifty-eight percent of Americans said they had either received a vaccine or were very likely to do so, up slightly from 55 percent in February. But there was a big jump in support for the vaccine among Black Americans: In our March survey, 52 percent said they’d been vaccinated already or very likely would get the vaccine, compared with 40 percent in February.
Many Americans Have Mixed Feelings About Some Pandemic Changes
• Although 61 percent of Americans said the statement “I miss the way my life was before the pandemic” mostly or completely described them, 41 percent mostly or completely agreed that they had learned valuable life lessons or positive takeaways as a result of their pandemic experiences.
• The most challenging aspect of pandemic life was the lack of opportunities for social interaction (30 percent of Americans), followed by inconvenient rules and regulations (17 percent).
• Eighteen percent of Americans said they were better off financially than before the pandemic started, while the same percentage said they were worse off.
But Some Pandemic Changes May Stick Around
• Nearly 80 percent of Americans said they want the emphasis on cleanliness and hygiene to continue. And—perhaps related—55 percent said they liked having more contactless shopping opportunities, like curbside pickup and delivery.
• Spending more time at home wasn’t all bad either: 44 percent of adults said they appreciated having more time to spend at home, though 22 percent said this was a negative change.
• The pandemic change people are most ready to get rid of? Remote learning. Sixteen percent of Americans liked that change and hope it continues, while 46 percent said they hope it ends soon.
About Consumer Reports American Experiences Survey: Consumer Reports’ American Experiences Survey (AES) is conducted monthly to track consumer attitudes and behaviors over time. It was fielded by NORC at the University of Chicago to a nationally representative sample of 2,144 US adults. The survey was conducted from March 4-15, 2021. Interviews were conducted in English and in Spanish, and were administered both online and by phone.