SALT LAKE CITY — Are Salt Lake County residents wearing masks in public?
According to a recent study, the simple answer is yes.
The county looked at more than 1,000 residents — the largest mask study conducted in the state so far. People were observed at a number of public places, namely stores.
The data doesn’t show whether people are wearing masks in private social gatherings, which is where health officials say the state is seeing the highest percentage of COVID-19 spread.
But in public spaces, Salt Lake County is doing pretty well. Out of the 1,388 observed between Oct. 22 and Oct. 26, 94% wore a face covering properly.
Researchers observed patrons in convenience, grocery, hardware, discount, sporting goods and home goods stores. Of that group, the largest noncompliance was seen at convenience stores with 14% not wearing a mask and the best compliance was seen at sporting goods stores with 100% wearing a mask.
For outdoor observation areas, which included parks, trailheads and a sports field, the numbers weren’t as good.
Out of 49 people observed at a trailhead, 22 were not wearing a mask. At a sports field, 18 out of 107 didn’t wear one; but of the 48 people observed at a park, everyone wore a mask.
A total of 214 people were observed outdoors and 48 total were not wearing a face covering in those areas.
More people under 12 years old and between 25 and 44 were seen not wearing a mask, compared to ages 12-24, 45-64 and 65 and older.
The county’s study was conducted prior to Gov. Gary Herbert’s statewide mask mandate that took effect on Monday, so the data only shows those complying with Salt Lake County’s mask order, which has been in effect since July and was later extended through the end of 2020.
Now, the entire state of Utah is under a mask mandate due to the consistently high case counts seen over the past month. As of Friday, 468 Utahns were currently hospitalized with the disease with 184 in intensive care units.
Face coverings have been a controversial topic ever since they were first recommended in the United States this spring. While some have argued for universal mask mandates across the board, others believe that mask mandates are unconstitutional and even that masks don’t work, despite doctors and studies saying otherwise.
Can you separate the mask fact from fiction? Here’s a quiz on mask use and effectiveness, using the latest information from respected medical organizations.