HKS Authors

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Late Friday, the CDC updated its guidance regarding mask types for Americans, saying that people now "can choose" to wear higher quality respirators such as N95 or KN95 masks, if they wish. The updated guidance comes on the heels of President Biden's announcement on Thursday that the nation has more than tripled its stockpile of N95s to help ensure the masks are available to the general population. In this report, we examine Americans' current attitudes towards mask use including whether and what type of masks Americans currently use, beliefs regarding CDC mask recommendations (attitudes collected before the CDC's updated guidance issued January 14, 2022), beliefs about which types of masks offer the greatest protection, and how mask use has changed over the course of the pandemic. These data shed light on the current masking behavior of Americans and point to current popular understanding (or misunderstanding) of CDC recommendations.


Safarpour, Alauna, Alexi Quintana, David Lazer, Roy Perlis, Matthew Baum, Katherine Ognyanova, Anjuli Shere, et al. "The COVID States Project #78: American mask use and CDC guidance." The COVID-19 Consortium for Understanding the Public's Policy Preferences Across States, January 15, 2022.