Change Over Time in Public Support for Social Distancing, Mask Wearing, and Contact Tracing to Combat the COVID-19 Pandemic Among US Adults, April to November 2020

Published online March 18 in the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH)


Objectives. To examine how sociodemographic, political, religious, and civic characteristics; trust in science; and fixed versus fluid worldview were associated with evolving public support for social distancing, indoor mask wearing, and contact tracing to control the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods. Surveys were conducted with a nationally representative cohort of US adults in April, July, and November 2020.

Results. Support for social distancing among US adults dropped from 89% in April to 79% in July, but then remained stable in November 2020 at 78%. In July and November, more than three quarters of respondents supported mask wearing and nearly as many supported contact tracing. In regression-adjusted models, support differences for social distancing, mask wearing, and contact tracing were most pronounced by age, partisanship, and trust in science. Having a more fluid worldview independently predicted higher support for contact tracing.

Conclusions. Ongoing resistance to nonpharmaceutical public health responses among key subgroups challenge transmission control.

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