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Seniors’ Opinions on Wearing Masks and COVID-19 Concerns

While there are differences based on age bracket and political affiliation, almost all seniors are wearing masks in public and most seniors disapprove of not wearing one in public.

July 9th, 2020 | TheSeniorList.com Research Team

There are more than 68 million adults ages 60 and over living in the U.S. This group is the most at risk from COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control has announced that wearing masks can slow the spread of COVID-19, and much of America is now being asked or required to wear masks in private businesses such as grocery stores or pharmacies. On July 6th, we asked more than 500 seniors their opinions on wearing masks in public, their concerns on catching COVID-19, and their observations of how often citizens in their area or complying with local regulations.

The data and opinions reflected below are from seniors age 60 and over who answered “yes” to the question: “Are face masks required to be worn in private businesses (such as grocery stores) where you live?,” which was just over 80 percent of respondents.

We also asked seniors which political party they most closely identified with, whether they were in an urban or rural setting, their observations of public behavior and their opinions on mask-wearing.

Key findings:

  • Fifty-six percent of seniors are “very” or “extremely” concerned with catching COVID-19. Just 14 percent of seniors say they are “not very” or “not” concerned.
  • Seventy-six percent of seniors “disapprove” or “strongly disapprove” of an individual’s decision not to wear a mask in public.
  • Answers change to some questions based on political affiliation. For example, 64 percent of Republicans “disapprove” or “strongly disapprove” of not wearing a mask compared to 85 percent of Democrats.
  • Most seniors (66 percent) are only leaving their house a “few times per week” or “not at all.”
  • Eighty-six percent of seniors are wearing a mask “every time” they are in public places.
  • In all areas of the country (rural, urban, suburban), seniors are observing that less than half of adults ages 35 and under are wearing masks “all” or “most” of the time.

Concerns with Catching COVID-19

Most seniors are “very” or “extremely” concerned with catching COVID-19 as of July 6th, 2020. As with most of the data below, these responses are limited to areas where seniors age 60 and over answered “yes” to the question: “Are face masks required to be worn in private businesses (such as grocery stores) where you live?” Seniors were also asked if they were over 70 years old, and whether or not they identified as Republican, Democrat, Independent or something else.

While fewer seniors identifying as Republicans considered themselves “very” or “extremely” concerned, 75 percent of seniors had some level of concern in all demographic elements evaluated.

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Senior Activities Outside the Home

We asked seniors how often they left their house in the previous week, from June 28th to July 5th. Two- thirds of seniors left their house a few times a week or less, and 25 percent of seniors left their house once or not at all. Few seniors are leaving their house multiple times per day.

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The types of activities that seniors engaged in outside the home varied, with no single activity being greater than 50 percent, except for “essential shopping.”

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Wearing Masks

How often are seniors wearing masks when in a public place? Nearly always. Eighty-six percent of seniors wear a mask “all the time” and 94 percent wear a mask when including “most of the time” (including 93 percent of Republicans and 96 percent of Democrats).

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There has been considerable media attention on Americans both supporting and opposing the wearing of masks, and so we asked seniors their opinions. Regardless of political affiliation, the great majority of seniors disapprove of the personal decision not to wear a mask in public, including 76 percent of all seniors, 85 percent of seniors identifying as Democrat and 64 percent of seniors identifying as Republican.

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Finally, we asked seniors how often younger people, which we defined as ages 35 and under were wearing masks in their area.

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Conclusion

While there are differences based on age bracket and political affiliation, almost all seniors are wearing masks in public and most seniors disapprove of not wearing one in public.

About TheSeniorList.com Research and This Data

TheSeniorList’s research team actively studies aging in place. We publish independent content covering social, economic, political and geographic topics for seniors. Data for this report comes from surveys

conducted nationwide on July 6th, 2020. We asked more than 500 adults age 60 and up about their opinions and usage of masks. We also asked about where they lived (rural vs. urban), how often they left the house and their political affiliation.