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1 in 4 unvaccinated people may not comply with CDC guidelines to wear masks indoors, survey suggests

People who dine out after the CDC recently changed mask guidelines are counting on the honor system. FG Trade/Getty Images

1 in 4 unvaccinated people may not comply with CDC guidelines to wear masks indoors, survey suggests

People who dine out after the CDC recently changed mask guidelines are counting on the honor system. FG Trade/Getty Images

1 in 4 unvaccinated people may not comply with CDC guidelines to wear masks indoors, survey suggests

People who dine out after the CDC recently changed mask guidelines are counting on the honor system. FG Trade/Getty Images

1 in 4 unvaccinated people may not comply with CDC guidelines to wear masks indoors, survey suggests

People who dine out after the CDC recently changed mask guidelines are counting on the honor system. FG Trade/Getty Images

The CDC’s updated guidelines also ask that unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people continue to wear a mask – even in establishments like bars and restaurants, where doing so may no longer be required.

People who dine out after the CDC recently changed mask guidelines are counting on the honor system. FG Trade/Getty Images

Matt Motta, Oklahoma State University

The revised guidelines on when and when not to wear masks came as a surprise to many Americans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced May 13, 2021, that people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can safely enter many indoor settings, such as grocery stores and restaurants, without wearing a mask.

The CDC’s updated guidelines also ask that unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people continue to wear a mask – even in establishments like bars and restaurants, where doing so may no longer be required.

There is good reason to suspect that at least some unvaccinated Americans may violate the CDC’s recommended “honor system” approach. Although the number of Americans who have been vaccinated or plan to be vaccinated against COVID-19 has increased in recent months, many Americans – 34%, according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey – are either on the fence about vaccinating (15%), will vaccinate only if required to do so (6%) or plan to forgo vaccinating altogether (13%).

My colleagues and I conducted research that suggests that many people who plan to refuse a vaccine hold negative views toward scientists and medical experts. Consequently, it seems plausible that unvaccinated people may be unwilling to heed the advice of public health experts at the CDC.

So an important question arises, especially as Memorial Day approaches and people want to be out and about: Can fully vaccinated Americans trust unvaccinated people to wear a mask, even when not required to do so? In a new, demographically representative survey, I find that the answer may be no.

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