Declines in COVID concerns and mask mandate support

Worries about being infected with the virus have fallen among the public. Support for mask mandates is also starting to decline.

February 25, 2022

As the most recent surge in COVID-19 cases caused by the omicron variant continues to decline across the country, public concern about coronavirus infection is also receding. Support for mask mandates has also decreased compared to recent months, yet Americans are still more likely to favor than oppose requiring the public to wear face masks when they’re around other people outside their homes. 

Twenty-four percent are extremely or very worried about themselves or a family member being infected with COVID-19. This is down from 36% who felt the same in the past couple of months, when the omicron variant caused a spike in cases. Vaccinated adults are about twice as likely as unvaccinated Americans to be concerned about infection (28% vs. 13%).

Half of Americans approve of mask mandates compared with 28% who oppose. Yet, support for this measure is down from 55% who supported the mask mandates in August 2021 and 75% in December 2020.

Americans vaccinated against COVID-19 are more likely to support mask mandates than the unvaccinated.  Even when controlling for vaccine status, Democrats are also more likely than Republicans and independents to say they support the policy.

The public is less concerned about the spread of infectious diseases as a direct threat to the U.S. than they were just six months ago. In August 2021, 65% were extremely or very concerned of the spread of infectious diseases. In the current survey, 48% are extremely or very worried, 33% are moderately concerned, and 19% are not concerned. The current level of concern is closer to pre-coronavirus pandemic levels.

The nationwide poll was conducted February 18-21, 2022 using the AmeriSpeak® Panel, the probability-based panel of NORC at the University of Chicago. Online and telephone interviews using landlines and cell phones were conducted with 1,289 adults. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3.7 percentage points.

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