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CDC: Increasing numbers of adults say they wear masks

CDC: Increasing numbers of adults say they wear masks
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As the coronavirus pandemic has worn on, an increasing percentage of adults have reported wearing face masks in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

But, while mask-wearing has gone up, all other reported mitigation behaviors, like hand-washing, physical distancing and avoiding public or crowded places, slightly decreased or remained unchanged.

The CDC surveyed people in April, May and June, and found the use of face masks increased from 78 percent in April to 83 percent in May and reached 89 percent in June.

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At each survey point, more younger adults (between the ages of 18 and 29) said they did not follow the mitigation strategies as strictly as older adults (older than 60). 

Still, among adults who reported face mask use at each point, a significantly higher percentage reported other mitigation behaviors compared with those who did not report mask use.

Among adults who did not report mask use, the CDC found all other reported mitigation behaviors also declined significantly from the April 20–26 survey to early June. 

Other mitigation behaviors also decreased over time among those who reported mask use, but to a much lesser extent, and only significantly for washing hands, maintaining a 6-foot distance, and canceling or postponing social events. 

The findings broadly reflect the notion of "pandemic fatigue" that health experts are warning about. They could also reflect a false sense of security, that people are beginning to think wearing a mask is enough.

The CDC noted it recommends "multiple, concurrent mitigation behaviors to most effectively reduce the spread of COVID-19."

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Older adults might be more concerned about COVID-19, based on their higher risk for severe illness compared with that of younger adults. 

The CDC said increases in mask use and decreases in other mitigation behaviors might reflect the elevated promotion of mask use over time, along with the lifting of shelter-in-place orders and reopening of business, service, hospitality and other sectors.

Significant declines in self-reported mitigation behaviors among those not reporting mask use suggest that a minority of people might be increasingly resistant to COVID-19 mitigation behaviors, the CDC said, or they may be unable to engage in mitigation behaviors because of the constraints introduced by their return to work, school, or other settings.