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DOI: 10.1101/2022.01.18.22269479


Previous observational work from 2020 demonstrated gender-, age-, and location-related differences in mask-wearing behavior, despite the efficacy and public health messaging that emphasized face coverings in combatting the spread of COVID-19. In 2021, COVID-19 vaccinations and a corresponding change in public health policy became new considerations in deciding personal protective behaviors. To provide an update on mask wearers and resistors approximately one year after our initial study, we observed shoppers (n = 6,118) entering retail stores using the same experimental methodology. Approximately 26% of individuals wore a mask. Mask wearing has decreased across demographic groups compared to 2020. Aligning with previous findings, females were ∼1.5x more likely to be observed wearing a mask than males, and the odds of observing a shopper wearing a mask in a suburban or urban area was far greater than at rural stores (∼5.7x and ∼3.3x, respectively). Gender and location are confirmed to be significant and stable factors that impact mask-wearing behavior in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact of age on mask wearing was heavily reduced compared to 2020, potentially due to the availability of COVID-19 vaccines and change in mask guidance for vaccinated individuals.


Pre-pub version. medRxiv, 2023. DOI. Online before print.

This article is a preprint and has not been peer-reviewed. It reports new medical research that has yet to be evaluated and so should not be used to guide clinical practice.

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