A majority of people in the United States continue to support a mask requirement for people traveling by plane and other shared means of transportation, according to a poll. A federal judge’s decision has suspended the government’s mandate regarding transport masks.
The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll finds that despite opposition to the requirement that included verbal abuse and physical violence against flight attendants, 56% of respondents support that people on planes, trains and public transport wear masks, compared to 24% who oppose it and 20% who say they are neither in favor nor opposed.
Interviews for the poll were conducted last Thursday through Monday, shortly before a federal judge in Florida struck down the nationwide mask mandate on planes and public transportation. Airlines and airports immediately removed their requirements that passengers wear face coverings, and the Transportation Security Administration stopped enforcing the mask requirement.
But the Justice Department said Wednesday it was filing an appeal to overturn the judge’s order. The notice came minutes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asked the court to appeal the ruling, saying “an order requiring masking in the domestic transportation corridor remains necessary for public health.”
The poll shows a wide partisan divide on the issue. Among Democrats, 80% support it and only 5% oppose it. Among Republicans, 45% are against against 33% for, 22% saying neither.
Vicki Pettus, who recently moved from Frankfort, Ky., to Clearwater, Florida, to be near her grandchildren, said she enjoys the view of Old Tampa Bay but doesn’t like the “very nonchalant attitude.” of Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, on masking. She said she will continue to wear her mask to protect against the coronavirus, including around her 55-plus home community and on the plane when she travels to Kentucky in a few weeks.
“Especially on a plane where that air is recirculating,” said Pettus, 71, an independent who leans toward the Democratic Party. “I think people are really stupid for not wearing their masks. But, hey, it’s their decision, and if they want to get sick, that’s fine. I’m not going to.”
But Kriste Lee, who works in sales in South Florida, is looking forward to flying without a mask the next time she travels next month.
“I really wish I was on a plane when they made that announcement,” Lee, 47, said. “I would have danced down the aisle.”
Continued public support for the requirement to wear masks on transport comes even as concerns over COVID-19 are among their lowest points in the past two years. Only 20% now say they are very or extremely worried that they or a family member will be infected. That’s down slightly since 25% said the same just a month ago and down from 36% in December and January when the omicron variant was all the rage. Another 33% now say they are somewhat worried, while 48% say they are not worried at all.
Count Betty Harp, of Leitchfield, Kentucky, among the “very worried” and not because she turns 84 next month. She said she looked after her big house and yard on her own, did a lot of canning and was in “fantastic health for my age”. But she has lost many friends and family to the virus, which has killed nearly a million people in the United States.
“I know COVID is still here. It’s still there,” said Harp, who described herself as a Republican-leaning independent. “I think we should all be wearing masks for a bit longer.”
In another AP-NORC poll last month, 44% of respondents always said they often or always wear face masks outside their homes, though that figure is down significantly from 65. % who declared it at the beginning of the year.
The latest poll also shows that around half of people support requiring masks for workers who interact with the public, compared to around 3 in 10 who oppose it. Support is similar to requiring people at crowded public events such as concerts, sporting events and movies to wear masks.
There, too, there are major partisan divisions. Seventy-two percent of Democrats favor requiring people attending crowded public events to wear masks, while among Republicans, 25% favor and 49% oppose. The numbers are similar for requiring masks for workers in contact with the public.
Lee, who said she doesn’t “do politics,” wondered aloud why people are complaining about the judge’s ruling and said no one is stopping anyone from wearing masks if they want to. wanted to.
“We all have our beliefs and obviously different points of view,” said Lee, who is unvaccinated. “Mine are definitely different from people who are angry and upset.”
Employees are divided on whether those who work in person at their own workplace should be required to wear masks. 34% say they are in favor of this requirement, 33% oppose it and 33% are neither in favor nor opposed. Among working Democrats, 48% are for and 18% are against. Among Republican workers, 53% are against and 18% are for.
Mike Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said the mask mandate messaging would have been more effective if it required N95 or KN95 respirators, which are more effective at preventing transmission. of the virus.
“But you’ve actually created a real challenge with yourself with the public now being selective if not outright angry at these mandates,” said Osterholm, who added that he would continue to wear his N95 mask on planes.
The AP-NORC poll of 1,085 adults was conducted April 14-18 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS