POLL: 55% of Americans wear masks amid coronavirus

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Woman wearing mask. (Photo: Pexels)

(ABC News) — More than half of Americans who went out in public in the last week say they’ve worn a face mask, as an overwhelming majority of Americans remain concerned over the reach of the novel coronavirus – and less are optimistic about the fight against and ultimate impact of the outbreak – according to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll released Friday.

After conflicting guidance over the last several weeks about whether it is necessary to wear some sort of face covering as a prophylactic measure, 55% of Americans who left their home in the last week said they wore a face mask or face covering, while 45% said they did not.

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Only a little over one in five are more optimistic in recent days about the effect of the pandemic on the country.

The latest coronavirus poll, conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News, using Ipsos’ Knowledge Panel, asked Americans about their attitudes towards the president, their concerns over the pandemic, their optimism and pessimism about the impact of the virus on American life, and whether they are taking the precaution of donning a face covering when they leave home.

One of the main forces driving Americans’ views is partisanship, with respondents appearing as divided over the coronavirus as they are over President Donald Trump.



This is even the case when it comes to wearing a face mask or covering in public. There is a 22 percentage point difference between Democrats (69%) and Republicans (47%) on wearing a mask, with a slight majority of Republicans (53%) electing to not wear a mask in public. The no-mask wearers stand at 31% for Democrats. Independents fall far closer to Republicans on this issue, with 49% choosing to wear a mask, and 51% not.

The partisan divisions are less stark and have grown closer over the month of ABC News/Ipsos surveys when it comes to concerns over contracting the disease with 90% of Democrats and 82% of Republicans reporting that they are concerned, including 50% of Democrats and 32% of Republicans who say they are very concerned.

Independents fall in between with 88% concerned, including 44% say they are very concerned. Only 10% of Democrats and 12% of independents are not concerned, compared to 18% of Republicans.

As confirmed cases of the outbreak climb to nearly half a million in the United States, and more data reveal racial disparities in the virus’ toll on the country, with severe disproportionate effects on black communities, attitudes and behaviors are also divided by race on some questions but not others.

The new poll finds racial differences on the president’s handling of the coronavirus, with only 31% of non-whites and 52% of whites approving. Nearly two-thirds of non-whites and 48% of whites disapprove of the president.

There are also divides by race in how Americans are responding to the crisis, with 61% of non-whites and 52% of whites opting to wear a face covering when they leave home, and 39% of non-whites and 48% of whites choosing not to wear a mask in public.

The poll was conducted during a two-day stretch, from April 8 to 9, when two of the nation’s hot spots in the crisis hinted at relatively more encouraging signs about their efforts to confront the crushing crisis than in recent weeks – even as most of the country remains shuttered.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo offered cautious optimism during his daily briefing on Wednesday – when he reported that hospitalizations in the state, considered the epicenter of the virus, are flattening. But still, the loss of life remains devastating, with New York seeing a one-day high in deaths, 799, from Wednesday to Thursday.

“We are flattening the curve by what we are doing,” he said. “If we continue doing what we’re doing, then we believe the curve will continue to flat. But it’s not a time to get complacent.”

In Washington state, where the first domestic case of coronavirus was reported in late January, Gov. Jay Inslee announced the field hospital at Century Link Field Event Center would be returned to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to deploy much-needed resources to areas of the country that are in greater need of them – a signal that at least in one state, perhaps, the virus is beyond its apex.

President Trump struck a more upbeat tone in the last few days, highlighting the country’s progress in the battle with the “invisible enemy,” as he once described the virus.

“Some terrible days ahead, but we’re going to have some wonderful days ahead and we’re going to get this behind us, this terrible thing behind us,” Trump said on Wednesday.

Even the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told ABC’s chief anchor George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning America” Thursday morning, “I do hope by the time we get there that we will well see that curve, that bending in the curve …There’s some indication that that might be going on, particularly in New York.”

But still, Trump’s approval for his handling of the crisis continues to be underwater for back-to-back weeks. Last week, in a poll conducted from April 1 to 2, Trump’s approval sat at 47%, with disapproval at 52%. This week, disapproval among Americans is at 55%, with only 44% approving.

Those most recent numbers mirror attitudes towards his management of the crisis from the first ABC News/Ipsos poll on coronavirus, conducted from March 11 to 12, when 43% of Americans approved and 54% disapproved.

Partisanship also drives attitudes of the president’s handling of the outbreak. Among Democrats, only 10% approve of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus – nearly identical to last week’s 9% – which is also one third of the 30% of Democrats who said the same three weeks ago. Trump’s support among Republicans remains stable, with 89% giving him high marks, similar to last week’s 91%.

An overwhelming 90% of Democrats disapprove, similar to last week’s 91%, and 11% of Republicans disapproving, on par with last week’s 9%. Independents continue to trace the opinions of the country, with 43% approving and 57% disapproving.

This ABC News/Ipsos poll was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs‘ KnowledgePanel® April 8-9, 2020, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 512 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 5.3 points, including the design effect. See the poll’s topline results and details on the methodology here.