Chronological association of public face mask usage with the progression of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in a medium-sized Texas city
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has brought many public health issues to the forefront. One area of interest is the use of face masks for disease spread reduction. This observational study aims to survey the trend of public mask usage in Amarillo, TX over two months during the COVID-19 pandemic. We hypothesized that public mask usage would decrease during the data collection period due to “COVID Fatigue” in the region studied. For two hours per week, customers entering a local supermarket were counted and recorded as mask-wearing or not mask-wearing. The percentage of customers wearing masks over time was characterized. The regional COVID-19 incidence rate was analyzed alongside this mask usage trend. A decrease in mask utilization was confirmed throughout May and June before policy interventions in July. Mask utilization was highest with a peak of at 35.5% in May before a decrease to a floor of 13.9% in June. A significant increase in mask utilization following a state mask mandate and private policy change was captured. The mandate alone was not enough to cause a 100% compliance rate in the population and the individual store policy change was what preceded the most significant increase. A strong negative correlation between mask usage and active Coronavirus cases in Amarillo was observed. This study revealed a trend of decreasing compliance with mask utilization over time. The findings suggest that the best method in increasing public compliance is a combination of both public health policy and private business policy implementation.
Copyright (c) 2021 Tyler Helton, Andrés Guerrero-Criado, Xinyi Huang, Mark Sigler
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