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Do Americans support mask mandates as delta variant surges? Here’s what poll found

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As the delta variant continues to spread and COVID-19 cases spike across the U.S., how many Americans support reinstating masking or social distancing rules?

A Monmouth University poll conducted July 21-26 with a sample of 804 adults found that 52% of respondents back mask and social distancing mandates in their state, while 46% said they oppose. The survey was conducted before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its guidance last week to advise those vaccinated against the coronavirus to wear masks indoors in areas with high COVID-19 transmission.

The margin of error for the survey is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

There was a partisan divide with 85% of Democrats supporting returning to wearing masks, while 73% of Republicans opposed. Forty-two percent of independents back mask mandates and 55% opposed.

The survey also found that 53% of respondents are worried that a family member could get seriously sick from COVID-19, nearly a 10 percentage point increase from last month’s Monmouth poll that recorded a record-low percentage of people who were worried.

Seventeen percent of respondents remain opposed to getting a vaccine, with 70% of that group being aligned with the Republican party, while 6% said they were Democrats. Sixty-eight percent of respondents said they got at least one COVID-19 shot, 2% said they were planning to get a vaccine as soon as possible and 9% were “hesitant, but persuadable.”

The poll comes as COVID-19 cases continue to spike across the country, fueled by vaccine hesitancy and the delta variant, which was discovered in India and is now the dominant strain spreading in the U.S.

Google, Facebook and The Washington Post are among the companies to announce that they are requiring their U.S. workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19. President Joe Biden announced that federal workers would be required to show that they’re inoculated against the coronavirus or follow rules on masking, social distancing and weekly testing, according to the Associated Press.

San Francisco and six other Bay Area counties reinstated a mask mandate Monday for everyone in indoor settings regardless of vaccination status, ABC reported, following other localized mandates across the country in recent days.

COVID-19 cases across the U.S. have risen 142% in the past two weeks and hospitalizations have increased 83% over that same period as of Aug. 3, according to The New York Times.

Another poll from Gallup found that as schools open for the fall, 67% of adults and 60% of parents with students in kindergarten through 12th grade support mask mandates for unvaccinated staff and teachers. Sixty-four percent of adults and 57% of parents back requiring masks for unvaccinated students.

The U.S. has had more than 35 million coronavirus cases and 613,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University data as of Aug. 3.

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