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Why is it so difficult to wear a mask in the United States?

July 24, 2020

Latest company news about Why is it so difficult to wear a mask in the United States?

When US President Trump, who claimed that he would not wear a mask, put on a mask, the news instantly made headlines all over the world.

Obviously different from our cognition, wearing masks is an inevitable choice for the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases. North America did not use masks as guidance for the epidemic in the early stage of the new crown epidemic. On the contrary, experts recommend that ordinary people do not need to wear masks.


So what makes wearing a mask so difficult?

Next, Yanba brought into the mask story 2.


How many people in the United States are willing to wear masks?


YouGov, a well-known British market research and data company, has conducted continuous investigations on individual residents’ behaviors to prevent the epidemic from February 2020. One of the investigations involved

"Do you wear a mask in public?"


. We have selected several representative countries’ survey results to present to you.

According to the survey results,


As of the end of July, 78% of American residents said they would wear masks in public places.

This result may be much higher than many people expected. Maybe the children's shoes that think so are affected by reports such as "Americans don't wear masks" and "Americans don't pay attention to the epidemic" on some media and self-media platforms?


But it needs to be pointed out that since this question is self-reported to answer, there may be an overestimation.

In layman's terms, although some people talk about it, they may not do it in reality.

Although the American people currently have a certain consensus on wearing masks in public places, this consensus is really difficult and difficult.


You must know that as early as April, the new crown epidemic in the United States was already very serious. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also issued mask guidelines on April 3, recommending that people wear cloth masks in public to slow the spread of the virus. However, the willingness of people to wear masks was not high in April. It was not until May that 15 states successively issued administrative orders compulsory wearing masks, and the people's willingness to wear masks in public has risen rapidly.


is similar to the situation in the United States, Canada


In the early stage of the epidemic, residents were not advised to wear masks. Chief Health Officer Tan Shiyong also stated in public that ordinary residents did not need to wear masks on many occasions. However, on April 6, Health Canada also announced that residents are advised to "wear non-medical masks if they cannot maintain social distance."


In contrast to the situation in the United States and Canada, in East Asia, such as China and Japan, since the beginning of the epidemic, most people will choose to wear masks in public places.


Even when the epidemic is basically under control, more than 80% of Chinese residents still say they will wear masks. There are also some countries, such as Norway and Australia, where residents are less willing to wear masks from beginning to end. This is due to the relatively good control of the epidemic in these countries.


Figure 1 The proportion of people in some countries who choose to wear masks in public places (picture from YouGov.)
Is it useful to wear a mask?


An important reason why the North American region has been refusing to recommend residents to wear masks is that experts and ordinary people have doubts about whether wearing masks is effective in anti-epidemic protection.


Many studies and experts said that wearing ordinary masks and medical masks has no significant effect on personal protection against the new crown epidemic.


The air tightness of ordinary masks is not good, and it cannot effectively block the inhalation of viruses.


However, as countries in East Asia that generally wear masks gradually control the epidemic, some people have proposed that although masks are not effective in protection, they may prevent respiratory droplets from splashing, thereby slowing the spread of the virus by infected people and protecting healthy people. effect.


This controversy continued until last week,Researchers from the University of Iowa in the United States pointed out through the analysis of US epidemic data that the widespread use of masks by the public effectively delays the spread of the new crown epidemic.


This research will be published in the well-known journal Health Affairs (Lyu and Wehby, 2020) in the field of public health in August.


The study emphasized that within 20 days of the mandatory wearing of masks in 15 states of the United States, the rate of new COVID-19 cases dropped by 2% every day. The resulting effect is that as of May 22, the mask order has prevented an estimated 23-450,000 people from contracting the new crown virus.

In addition, a meta-analysis study published in The Lancet in June pointed out

, people generally wear masks, which can effectively reduce the risk of contracting the new coronavirus (Chu. et al, 2020).

Compared with not wearing a mask, wearing a mask can reduce the risk of contracting the new coronavirus by an average of 14.3%.

It can be seen that the widespread use of masks by the people can effectively slow down the spread of the new coronavirus, thereby protecting the healthy and susceptible people.

Why is it so difficult for Americans to wear masks?

After talking about the role of masks, let us return to the original question. Why is it so slow and difficult to wear masks in North America? To answer this question, we must first understand the factors that affect whether people wear masks during the epidemic?

Based on the results of multiple studies, the editor concluded that the behavior of wearing a mask is usually affected by the following factors:

The behaviors, administrative orders, severity of the epidemic, political tendencies and cultural traditions of the primary groups.

Looking at it concretely,

Primary group behavior

refers to the "companion effect". When your relatives and friends around you are wearing masks, you will most likely adopt the same strategy to protect yourself, and vice versa.

Administrative order

refers to the guidance or compulsory orders issued by experts or government departments on the epidemic to regulate and restrict people's behavior.

severity of the epidemic

refers to the risk of contracting the new coronavirus in the area where an individual is located. The higher the risk of infection, the higher the severity of the epidemic.

Political leanings,

refers specifically to the affiliation of the Democratic or Republican Party (Partisanship) in the American cultural context.

And cultural tradition refers to the people's traditional perception of masks. For example, in North America, only people who are ill and medical professionals wear masks, while ordinary people usually don't wear masks. In the early days of the development of the epidemic, there have been many offensive incidents targeting Asians wearing masks in North America. In addition to racial discrimination, cultural traditions also have a certain impact.

Seeing the above factors, can you guess which factor has the greatest impact on the American people's epidemic prevention behavior? Is it the severity of the epidemic, or an administrative order?


Political orientation is the biggest factor influencing the epidemic prevention behavior of the American people.

Surprised or not surprised?

A study by political science experts at the University of Pennsylvania (Gadarian et al, 2020) pointed out that compared with the severity of the epidemic, whether people are supporters of the Democratic or Republican Party has more influence on their strategies against the epidemic.
Such as keeping social distance, wearing a mask, etc.

Research points out that partisanship does not only represent the views of personal political behavior, such as voting, but rather stable emotional orientation, social values, and identity. It profoundly affects the psychological and behavioral state of the American people. Including attitudes and actions against the epidemic.

The research results pointed out that

Anti-epidemic behaviors such as keeping social distancing are affected by party affiliation 138 times the severity of the epidemic!


It can be seen that when an epidemic occurs, people who wear masks or not, people trust their political representatives, such as Mr. President, more than experts and scholars.

Specifically, Democratic supporters are more likely (12.7%) to take anti-epidemic measures than non-political supporters, while Republican supporters are 27.1% less likely.

Figure 2 The marginal effect of party attributes and the number of new coronary pneumonia cases on social distancing (picture from Gadarian et al, 2020.)

The blue line in the figure represents the influence of the attributes of the Democratic Party on outing activities during the epidemic, the red line represents the Republican Party, and the green line represents the impact of the severity of the new crown on outing activities during the epidemic.

we can clearly see that


Compared with people who are not politically inclined, Republican supporters will go out more, while Democratic supporters will be less likely to go out.


Although the US epidemic has worsened since June, the impact of the severity of the epidemic has increased, and the influence of party attributes has decreased slightly, there are still significant differences between the supporters of the two parties.

This can be supported in reality. The New York Times once wrote that the Trump administration has serious differences on whether to formulate guidelines for nationals to wear masks. Although the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has repeatedly urged Americans to wear masks when they are away from home to slow the spread of the epidemic, President Trump has repeatedly stated in public that wearing masks is a “voluntary” behavior and he will not take the initiative to wear them. Masks.


Under the influence of his remarks, Trump's supporters have rallied, demonstrated and protested many times, and publicly expressed their opposition to the policies of wearing masks and "closing the city".

It can be seen that politicians play a greater role than experts and scholars in the fight against the epidemic in the United States. The attitude of politicians directly affects the views and attitudes of a broad audience.

The US NPR once pointed out that the US Centers for Disease Control recommends that people wear masks, and President Trump has publicly stated that he will not wear masks. This has caused great contradictions and doubts to the people, making it difficult for them to make judgments.


In this process, the decline of experts deserves more attention and reflection. The Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University in the United States (Tsinghua and Peking University in the field of public health) once issued an open letter in support of public health experts and called for experts in the field of public health to lead the anti-epidemic recommendations and policies, not politician.


Professional people cannot play their due role. Perhaps this is the crux of the US anti-epidemic problem.

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