Story at a glance

  • The poll was conducted less than a week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended people wear face coverings in public.
  • The share of people wearing masks has increased sharply from a March poll taken by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
  • The poll found 13 percent of Americans said they didn’t leave their homes in the past week.

More than half of Americans who left their homes in the past week said they wore a mask or face covering when they went out to protect themselves from the coronavirus, a new poll reports. 

The ABC/Ipsos survey found that 55 percent of Americans said they wore a face mask or other type of face covering, such as a scarf or bandana, while 45 percent said they did not. The poll was taken Wednesday and Thursday, less than a week after the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced April 3 that people should wear face coverings while they are in public to slow the spread of the virus. 


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That’s a noteworthy change when compared to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll taken in March that found 12 percent of people said they wore a mask in public. 

The ABC/Ipsos poll also found people’s willingness to wear face coverings fell along party lines, with 69 percent of Democrats saying they wore such coverings, compared to 47 percent of Republicans and 49 percent of independents. 

When participants were asked if they were concerned about the pandemic, 50 percent of Democrats said they were “very concerned” they would become infected with the virus, compared with 44 percent of independents and 32 percent of Republicans. 

The poll found people are still leaving their homes, with only 13 percent saying they didn’t leave their house in the past week.

The CDC issued new guidance last week recommending people wear homemade masks or face coverings to stop the spread of coronavirus, a reversal for the agency that said at the beginning of the outbreak healthy people did not need to wear masks because it would not protect them from contracting the disease. 


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Research released in recent weeks indicates people can have the virus, show no symptoms and unknowingly pass it to others. The CDC says wearing face coverings could prevent that.

“In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain,” the CDC said, listing grocery stores and pharmacies as examples. 

The CDC said people should not wear or purchase surgical masks or N95 respirators because they are needed for health care workers and are in short supply. 

The poll was conducted from April 8 to April 9 among a random sample of 512 adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.3 points.


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Published on Apr 10, 2020