Most Americans wore cloth face-coverings after the government recommended their use in April, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a publication released on Tuesday. CDC researchers analyzed data from more than 800 adults in two internet surveys in April and May who reported going outdoors in the past week.
Data published in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report showed that within days of the first national recommendation, 61.9% people reported using cloth face-coverings when they left home. This number rose to 76.4% a month later.
The use of cloth masks rose in May across socio-demographic groups. The largest increases were among non-Hispanic White people (54.3% to 75.1%), people older than 65 years (36.6% to 79.2%), and those living in the Midwest (43.7% to 73.8%).
High rates of use were reported at both time points among Black Americans (74.4% to 82.3%), persons of races other than White, Black, Hispanic or Latino (70.8% to 77.3%), people aged 18–29 years (70.1% to 74.9%) and 30–39 years (73.9% to 84.4%), and residents of the Northeast (76.9% to 87.0%).
While more research is needed to understand why some people still do not wear cloth masks, the CDC said public health authorities should continue communicating the importance of covering the mouth and nose.
A more recent survey by US analytics firm Gallup found only 44% always wore a mask, and women, Democrats and Northeasterners were most likely to always wear masks in public.
In April, President Donald Trump said the US government recommended use of cloth face-coverings on a voluntary basis to stem the spread of the coronavirus, although he himself would not use one. Trump finally donned one last week during a visit to a military medical facility outside Washington.