A new study of mask wearing and other pandemic behaviors conducted by the USC Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research finds that 30 percent of L.A. County residents are still not consistently masking up in settings where they may come into contact with people from outside their household. Still, with 70 percent of Angelenos reporting that they wear a mask “always” or “most of the time” around people they don’t live with, the city is in better shape than much of the country. The study found that, nationwide, only 51 percent of people are masking up “always” or “most of the time” with non-household members.
In addition to asking about mask wearing, the researchers asked participants how often they engaged in activities that could put them at exposure risk. Forty-one percent of respondents across the country acknowledged they had visited another person’s home within the past seven days, and while doing so, only 21 percent kept their masks on while socializing.
“These findings indicate a need to redouble efforts to convey consistent messages about the overall importance of wearing masks, but more than that—where and when to wear them,” Arie Kapteyn, director of USC’s Dornsife Center, stated. “Too many seem to lack a clear understanding of the risks posed by friends and family outside their immediate households.”
The survey, which was conducted in December and early January, amid the peak of Southern California’s surge, did find that L.A. residents put themselves in exposure-risk situations less often than the national average. Just 50 percent of the Angelenos in the study reported being within six feet of a non-household member in the previous seven days, compared to 63 percent nationally.
White respondents in the survey were the least likely to report mask wearing when in situations where they could expose themselves or others to the virus, saying they wear a mask “always” or “most of the time” while in contact with non-household members just 46 percent of the time.
Respondents in rural areas reported the wearing masks just 42 percent of the time, compared to 52 percent in suburban areas, and 57 percent in areas categorized as urban.