Fresno State study finds people in Central CA less likely to wear face masks in public

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Saturday, May 1, 2021
Study: Central CA people less likely to wear masks in public
Residents living in the Fresno area were more likely to not wear face masks while out in public.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A recent study conducted by Fresno State found residents living in the Fresno area were more likely to not wear face masks while out in public.

The early data is part of a nationwide project aimed at helping prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Just days after the CDC recommended new guidance on mask-wearing, Fresno State revealed its findings from a recent project that looked at how the local community responded to the previous mandate of face coverings.

"I think you're all aware that people don't always wear their masks the way they should and we wanted to know if we could go out and see patterns in mask behavior depending on the location and depending on some demographics," said Dr. Nicole Smith with Fresno State.

A total of 46 data collectors, including a team of more than 30 Fresno State students and community members, joined a national research project called Systematic Observation of Mask Adherence and Distancing.

The goal was to observe who was wearing a mask and social distancing while out in public.

"No mask was observed 62% of the time and that means it wasn't a neckbeard, it wasn't covering the nose but not the mouth it wasn't visible at all," said Dr. Smith.

The early data showed people were more likely to wear masks when it was publicly posted in commercial locations such as grocery stores or shopping centers.

But individuals tended to not adhere to the mandate when outdoors or in public parks.

"I was really shocked at how many people don't really follow protocol especially when I go out for a run on trails and other places. It's really shocking how people don't pay attention to the signage and protocols that are recommended," said Fresno State student Breanna Ruvalcaba.

The findings also showed the effects weather patterns had on mask-wearing in public

"During winter time, people would wear their masks right as they got out of their car and go in and take it off right when they get in their car," said Fresno State student Srushtil Patil.

The data collected will go into a national database that will compare the Fresno region with other locations across the country.