We get it: Masks are uncomfortable in a lot of different ways. This isn’t new; we’ve known this for a while. BARDA and JLabs funded Taza Aya in 2020 to address these very same issues.
From a public health perspective, wearing masks is most effective at preventing the spread of disease when everyone wears them correctly and the masks are of high quality, i.e., “my mask protects you; your mask protects me.”
However, universal masking is far from the norm. People at high risk must decide, in any given situation, what compromises they’re willing to make between self-protection and their own social and physical comfort.
The number of people who continue to make these tradeoffs is greater than you think.
- A Kaiser Family Foundation study found that 3 in 10 adults surveyed felt the need to resume wearing masks in public during the recent “triple-demic” when respiratory viruses RSV, SARS-CoV-2, and influenza were all circulating. For survey respondents at high risk for severe COVID, this number rose to 4 in 10.
- While a 2020 Kaiser Family Foundation study found that more than 92M Americans were at high risk for severe COVID, a more recent PSA by Pfizer places that number at nearly 200M. The increase is likely due to inclusion of additional health risk factors (such as depression) and a downward revision, from 65 to 50, of the threshold at which age becomes a risk factor.