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The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week that wearing masks could halt the coronavirus in four to six weeks. For an economy on life support—with another $1-trillion-plus about to come from Congress—that is critical.
A team of researchers at Goldman Sachs has also found that a face mask mandate alone could potentially save the economy from an additional 5% decline in GDP.
And Salesforce’s CEO Marc Benioff grabbed headlines last week when he declared face masks could end the economic crisis in under a month: “If everyone in the United States wore a mask for three weeks—just three weeks—we would not have any more coronavirus, because there would be no more spread, but people do not want to wear masks.”
But how often are Americans wearing masks? To find out, Fortune and SurveyMonkey polled 2,802 U.S. adults between July 17 and 21.*
The share of Americans always wearing masks is now 67%, up from 54% since Fortune and SurveyMonkey polled Americans in May: 19% say they usually wear a mask, 8% rarely wear one, and 5% never wear a mask in public.
But that uptick is modest, given health professionals have advocated profusely for masks during that two-month period. In order to slow the virus—which is soaring just about everywhere outside the Northeast—the share of Americans consistently wearing masks will still need to grow significantly.
Republicans (49%) are still less likely to wear masks than Democrats (85%). Some of that may be a result of geography: Republicans skew more rural and exurban, where they aren’t constantly in close contact with other people while out in public.
It could also be a result of politics, with President Donald Trump often being a lukewarm supporter of masks. However, the President appears to be changing his tune, with his tweeting an image this week of himself wearing a mask and calling it a “patriotic” act.
*Methodology: The Fortune-SurveyMonkey poll was conducted among a national sample of 2,802 adults in the U.S. between July 17–21. This survey’s modeled error estimate is plus or minus 3 percentage points. The findings have been weighted for age, race, sex, education, and geography.
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