"Gen Z and Millennials may get a bad rap for what people perceive as apathy toward Covid-19 and lack of social distancing, but more than half of 18 to 39-year-old Americans are "always" wearing a face mask in public settings, according to the "Facing the Truth Survey" conducted by Engine Insights on behalf of SQ Medical Supplies...."
Illustration of people wearing masks amid Covid-19. Source: elenabs
The U.S.-based survey found that 62 percent of Americans 18 to 23 (Gen Z) are always wearing a face mask in public settings, compared with 54 percent of Americans 24 to 39 (Millennials). Sixty-one percent of people 40 to 55 years old, known as Gen X, said they are "always" wearing a face mask in public settings, versus 69 percent of people who are 56 to 74 years old (Baby Boomers).
From a broader perspective, the survey said that a majority of Americans (86%) are either wearing a face mask all of the time or most of the time in public settings. The frequency of mask wearing is highest among people 65 and older.
"It’s easy to stereotype Gen Z and Millennials and assume they are not wearing face masks, but the truth is, adults of all ages are wearing masks these days, and that’s positive news as we continue to combat Covid-19," said Jeffrey Tipton, M.D., who specializes in occupational and preventative medicine. "We know that wearing a mask significantly lowers the risk of transmitting the disease to others, as well as prevents contracting the disease. Do all masks protect us perfectly? Well, no, but something is better than nothing."
Cloth vs. Surgical Masks and N95s
When survey participants were asked if they wear a cloth face mask, surgical mask, N95 or KN95 respirator, most people said cloth (61 percent), followed by surgical mask (51 percent). Only 14 percent of those surveyed indicated they are wearing a N95 or KN95 respirator. N95 respirators are certified in the United State and KN95 respirators are certified in China.
Dr. Tipton said cloth masks are generally good at stopping and capturing small droplets but are not great at stopping the "super tiny particles" found in viruses. Higher quality cloth masks with a couple of layers of fabric typically block around 80 percent of viruses or bacteria from entering the mask, compared with protection of greater than 95 percent from surgical masks.
A fitted N95 or KN95 respirator is the gold standard for protection, but they are largely reserved for the healthcare setting, Dr. Tipton said. Respirators are designed to block more than 95 percent of virus-sized particles.
Race, Region and Income
The "Facing the Truth Survey" also tracked the frequency of face mask wearing among different races. Seventy-two percent of African Americans reported they are "always" wearing a face mask in public settings, compared with 58 percent of non-Hispanic whites who were surveyed.
Regionally, 67 percent of survey participants in the Northeast said they are always wearing a face mask, compared with 51 percent of Americans in the Midwest, 63 percent in the South and 66 percent in the West.
When it comes to income per household in the United States, those earning less than $50,000 a year wore a mask just as frequently as those households earning more than $100,000 a year. At the same time, 63 percent of college graduates said they are "always" wearing a face mask in a public setting, compared with 59 percent of people who have completed high school or less education.
"We conducted the ‘Facing the Truth Survey’ to better understand how often people are wearing face masks and what type of face masks they are wearing," said Jonathan Lim, chief executive officer of Los Angeles-based SQ Medical Supplies. "The survey results demonstrate that in a six-month timeframe, we have gone from virtually wearing no face masks in the United States, to the pervasive use of face masks throughout our society."
Despite survey findings that a majority of Americans are wearing face masks in public, more than 10 percent of respondents said that wearing a face mask does "very little" to help control the spread of Covid-19. The greatest number of Americans who hold this belief are 45 to 54 years old.
To view the full survey results, please contact Evan Pondel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Facing Truth Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted by ENGINE INSIGHTS among a sample of 1,004 adults 18 years of age and older. The online omnibus study is conducted three times a week among a demographically representative U.S. sample of 1,000 adults 18 years of age and older. This survey was live July 27 to 29, 2020.