Mask use up in the South as COVID-19 concern increases in the region

August 24, 2021, 3:58 PM UTC

In the South, where vaccination rates are low and the Delta variant created a new surge of cases (in some places, the highest infection rates ever) this summer, personal concern about the virus has increased in recent weeks.

Most Southerners (55%) are now worried about experiencing COVID-19. That concern is highest among Southern Democrats, 79% of whom worry about catching the virus. One-third of Southern Republicans (37%) are personally worried about contracting COVID-19.

There is only slightly more concern about contracting the Delta variant. 

Until May, a majority of those living in the South (like those elsewhere in the country) said they always wore a face mask when they went out of their house. From March on, Southern states like Texas lifted their statewide mandates and by June, the share of Southerners who always wore masks dropped below 30%. So did face mask use elsewhere.  

In recent weeks wearing face masks has increased slightly: a third of Southerners (33%) now always wear masks when they go out, and more than half (57%) wear them most of the time.  

About half of Americans overall (53%) say they wear face masks either “always” or “most of the time” now. Those in the South (57%) and West (59%) are more likely than those in the Northeast (46%) and Midwest (44%) to wear face masks with this level of frequency. 

But Democrats in the South (59%) are far more likely than Southern Republicans (20%) or Independents (29%) to always wear masks outside the home. 

Related: Americans support vaccine mandates for teachers, airline workers, and police officers 

See the toplines and crosstabs from this Economist/YouGov poll 

Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 US Adult Citizens interviewed online between August 14 - 17, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. The margin of error is approximately 2.8% for the overall sample.  

Image: Getty