The State of Masking in Trump Country: An Anecdotal Report

A picture of me, wearing a mask, today.

I had a doctor’s appointment today (spoiler: I’m fine, everything’s fine), and I was excited about it because I haven’t been out of the house for a while and also I bought some new masks and I was excited to try one of them out. The new masks are triple layer (one of the layers being an N95 insert), have an elastic band around the back of the head so they don’t fall off, and fit snugly around the chin for extra cover-your-faceness. Welcome to 2020, masks are so in this year.

Well, sort of. As most of you know, I live in a county that went 78% for Trump in 2016 and is likely to pull similar numbers this year, and out in Trump Country, masks are the sign of a multinational Soros-funded conspiracy to compromise our precious bodily fluids, or whatever. So the question is: What is the status of mask wearing in rural-ish America, or at least the part of it where I live and move around in?

The answer: Spotty! At the doctor’s office, of course, it was full compliance; all the receptionists, nurses and doctors wore masks (mostly basic disposable surgical masks) and wore them the entire time they were working on me. I also wore mine the entire time, as I was not there for anything that involved anyone needing me to breathe on them, or them looking down my throat. I suspect it would be a bad time for anyone trying to argue in a medical office that masks weren’t needed or required.

Then I went to Kroger, to pick up some things, and the mask-wearing percentage dropped significantly. Who were wearing masks? Well, it wasn’t middle-aged-and-younger dudes, I can tell you that much; not counting the dudes working, I was the only man my age or younger wearing a mask. Older men (and older people in general) were wearing masks, probably because regardless of their political positions it’s been drilled into their heads by now that older people are more susceptible to the ravages of COVID-19 than younger people. That said, of the younger men I saw not wearing masks, a rather lot of them had, how best to put it, obvious co-morbidity factors. It probably wouldn’t be great for them if they got sick.

Anecdotally, this has been the way of it for a while now out here: If you’re a man visibly under the age of 60 (and here where I live, in a county that is 98.5% white, this means basically white men under the age of 60), you’re far more likely not to be wearing a mask out in public, and in the retail sphere, than you are to be wearing one. Now, note that Kroger and nearly all other retail establishments have signs at the entrances telling customers that masks are required; the dudes are ignoring them and the retail workers (all of whom are masked) are not stopping them, because we’ve all seen the videos of people completely losing their shit when asked to wear a mask, and retail doesn’t pay enough for that sort of nonsense. Over the age of 60, men wearing masks becomes more common, because they don’t want to die. In my experience the ratio of women of all ages wearing masks is the inverse of the men under 60; most women wear masks, but some don’t.

Mask wearing, at least as I see it here and in my own anecdotal experience, is very definitely coded by sex, and while I haven’t done any sort of serious study of it — I’m not out in front of Kroger, tallying up masks and not masks — it wouldn’t terribly surprise me if the correlation between who refuses to wear a mask and who is voting for Trump is very high. Likewise the correlation between the dudes not wearing a mask and their level of education (less than a quarter of the people who live in Darke county have a bachelor’s degree), which again correlates well with one of Trump’s most solid voting constituencies. Trump eschews the wearing of masks and has made wearing them both political and a referendum on masculinity, so it’s not entirely surprising if his supporters have followed suit.

Does this mean that I am getting terrible looks from dudes because I’m wearing a mask? Not at all; mostly everyone in Kroger and elsewhere is working on minding their own business. I do find anecdotally that dudes have far less of a problem with the “social distancing” aspect of things, which doesn’t surprise me all that much — Trump and his associated lackies have made much less of an issue of standing six feet apart — so it’s been relatively simple to keep a prudent distance from the maskless in any event. Most people here seem to have settled on the “If you want to wear a mask, wear one; if you don’t, dont,” level of things. Which, again, is against current retail regulations. But rules that aren’t enforced aren’t really rules, are they.

Important point: I’ve made the anecdotal connection between supporting Trump and not wearing a mask, but let me take a moment here to note that my anecdotal experience is anecdotal; I’ve literally not been more than 15 miles from my house in months. It’s entirely possible that dudes under 60 in deeply blue areas are just as useless about wearing masks as the dudes under 60 here in my deeply red area. In which case, it’s not about rampaging Trumpism, it’s about dudes under 60 generally being shit when it comes to caring about other people. Dipshit masculinity is a hell of a drug, y’all. Those of you elsewhere, you can tell me your own anecdotal experience in the comments, if you like.

I’m not thrilled by people who don’t wear masks; at this point, however, I’ve sort of wearily accepted that some people are just never gonna, and since the Governor of Ohio has not vested in me the power to be Mask Warden, what I’m going to do is a) stay home most of the time, b) mask myself up when I do go out, and c) keep out of the way of the maskless when I can, and I mostly can. This is low-density living and people are mostly just fine giving everyone else space. Hopefully that will be enough for now.

— JS

135 Comments on “The State of Masking in Trump Country: An Anecdotal Report”

  1. Notes:

    1. Political post, so play nice, be polite to each other, etc.

    2. I’ll note that according to, at the moment Ohio has the fifth lowest Rt (virus transmission) value of all the states, which I find to be an encouraging thing.

    3. A fun story I wasn’t able to fit into the main piece: A couple of weeks ago I was at the local convenience store and two deeply stoned dudes were staring glassily into a freezer compartment, trying to decide what ice cream to get. They were wearing masks but had their noses out, which is effectively not wearing a mask. But given how deeply stoned they were and the fact that in that deeply stoned state they still remembered that they should mask up, I was willing to give them partial credit for effort.

  2. I work at a Trader Joe’s in a solid, deep blue area and mask wearing is pretty much 100% across ages and genders indoors and slightly less outdoors when you cannot avoid people. You can count on one hand the number of people that didn’t want to wear a mask. In fact, anecdotally, we have heard more complaints from customers that think we aren’t being strict enough on issues than too strict.

  3. This is going to be the first time in about 25 years where I’ve gone 12 months without flying and I am 100% OK with that.

  4. I had a similar encounter with a young, very baked, man who was contemplating the hot food bar at a grocery store. His mask had just slid down without him noticing, or perhaps he wanted to immerse himself in delicious aromas. Other than that, folks are quite good about wearing their mask correctly here in suburban Chicagoland. There was one older dude who was surprised that he had to wear a mask in the library. We gave him one for his visit.

  5. I live in the Australian equivalent of a ‘blue’ state [Victoria], and we’ve been in hard lockdown for months because we had an outbreak that the authorities couldn’t control. That hard lockdown included an 8pm curfew, no socialising, only going out if you had to pick up food or medicines, only /working/ if you were in an essential sector…and wearing masks. We’ve already been told that mask wearing in public will continue after restrictions are eased. By and large, Victorians accept the necessity and get on with it. I hope we end up like Thailand where mask wearing has been normal all along and the rate of transmission is almost zero.

  6. Here at the end of the world in a Deep Blue state (Provincetown, Massachusetts), not only locals but tourists (including day-trippers from the Red parts of the area) are nearly all complying with the local masking regulations. I have noticed men of all ages are less likely to be wearing a fabric (i.e., purchased rather than distributed by the town) mask and are more likely to have it hanging below their nose. And I’m shocked, shocked I tell you, at the number of elderly people who don’t bother to correctly wear a mask. I keep wanting to shout “hey, buddy, we’re doing this for you and then you go and ruin it.” Although overall, as I said, compliance is *very* high here.

  7. Interesting in my blue county and blue state I notice that it’s the older women and some minorities that refuse to wear a mask. I have no explanation for it. No one seems to mind or confront them. Well I did witness one store employee ask an older woman to wear a mask and she breezed right by him saying she had a medical condition. Sure. Anyway, it’s good advice to wear one and have some respect for yourself and others. This too shall pass.

  8. In Los Angeles there’s almost 100% compliance among men under 60 with mask wearing when in retail establishments. Lots of people of all ages and genders put on, and take off, the mask in the parking lot. But there’s also lots of patio eating, which I personally find a tad risky.

  9. Would love to know what brand/maker your new mask is from, and where to get it; a virus-effective mask with an N95 insert would be especially useful up here in the Pacific Northwest right about now. I’ve got several different kinds, all home-sewn fabric, with varying degrees of comfort and coverage, but I really like the look of the one you’re wearing, and need to expand my collection.

  10. Greetings from Omaha, a drop of blue in a red state. I had occasion to drop my daughter’s car off at the repair shop in a strip mall last week after dark and was quite surprised to see the amount of traffic walking in and out of a local watering hole. Most were sans masks, and almost all were under the age of 30 if I had to hazard a guess. It’s been my my (limited) experience that the younger crowd is more laissez faire about wearing masks to begin with. I always mask up due to health issues, and while it’s uncomfortable, it’s not terrible. Keep the faith, my friend.

  11. Agree with Roberta about mask-wearing in deep blue suburban Chicagoland and add Chicago itself, since I’m close enough to the city to observe: lots of masks, all age groups and ethnicities. I did see one young African American man at the grocery store yesterday with his mask pulled up on top of his head–I mean, literally like some sort of rectangular beanie tied under his ears–but that was unusual. And also weird.

    Everyone else was properly masked, carefully covering mouths and noses.

  12. Scalzi: “If you want to wear a mask, wear one; if you don’t, dont,”

    Unfortunately, that is morally equivalent to saying: “if you want to drive sober, drive sober. If not, that’s my choice.”

    Your mask protects everyone else. N95 be damned, unless the mask has double sided tape all around, its not keeping their virus OUT. But it can keep your virus IN.

    Masks slow the velocity of your exhaling breath so your virus doesnt carry as far. And it may stop some of the larger water droplets coming out of your lungs, likely big virus carriers.

    Basically, we are seeing the real life allegory of long spoons. People are tied to chairs and have a feast oj the table before them. But the only utensils are too long to feed themselves. Its the same setup in hell and heaven. But in heaven, everyone uses their spoon to feed their neighbor. In hell, its fuck all ya all, and everyone starves.

    Wearing a mask only feeds your neighbor. It doesnt feed you. And the GOP, party of “fuck you”, wont lift a finger, or wear a featherweight mask, to help anyone around them.

    And so, we are in hell.

  13. @skatefriday Patio eating freaks me out. I feel like there’s not nearly enough distance to be exposed to strangers with their faces uncovered like that.

  14. We were up in what I believe to be your area for the Waco plane show and had pretty much the same experience. Half masked, (more than I actually expected), no one questioning the masked or the unmasked, and pretty near the same demographic.

    Fortunately, out of doors and more than enough social distancing possibilities so we had that going for us.

  15. Here in the N. Atlanta burbs, I’m kind of surprised at the numbers of those wearing masks in stores considering how red this part of the county is. You’ll always have the fat douchebag in a giant Brodozer pickup who won’t wear one and who has a screaming meltdown if asked, but that’s pretty much everywhere. And they call me a snowflake…

  16. Here in DuPage County, Illinois, suburban Chicago and 60% Republican, anecdotally, 100% mask wearing inside, 50% outside, with two notable exceptions, discussed below. IMHO, the no-mask outside people are largely socially-distanced enough to justify their mask choices. (Walking your dog alone on a suburban sidewalk probably does not require a mask.) Of course, DuPage County also has a high percentage of college-educated people.

    Types of masks are 40% disposables, 40% reusable cloth and 20% others (gaters, bandanas, dust masks, a few N95s.) Also notable, I’ve seen people who were clearly in a group (like kids playing together) where some are masked and some are not.

    The two notable no-mask exceptions are the gym and one restaurant which I shall not name. In the gym, almost none of the people working out wear a mask. (For my Mom, who may read this – when I’m in the gym, I’m masked from door to door regardless of what exercise I’m doing.) The other location is one local restaurant.

    At the restaurant, the staff tends to wear their masks anywhere EXCEPT the face (under the chin, on their arms, in a pocket, etc). The owner had a life-size cardboard cutout of Donald Trump out by the front door one evening – a fact I note for what it’s worth. (I also note that when you visit the dictionary entry for comorbidity, you’ll see his picture staring back at you.) Even so, at that location, customer mask wearing is 70% or so. (Again for Mom – that’s the location I only eat takeout or on the very sunny and breezy patio.)

  17. In a relatively blue section of the Los Angeles area (i.e. San Fernando Valley, *NOT* Orange County) and it’s been six months since I’ve seen anyone of any age or sex in a store without a mask. Which is great! Even at the auto dealer (had a couple of trips due to a car issue) it’s been 100% compliant. If one were to ignore the comments on the neighborhood Facebook page you might almost think we lived someplace sane. Almost.

  18. More anecdotal data for you. I’m in SoCal Orange County which flipped blue this last 2018 election. I’ve noticed that inside the grocery store the only time people haven’t been masked have been people not old enough to drink. The small children people have left be but I saw a worker yell at the teenagers and gave them some disposables to use which they took with no argument. Outside the grocery store it’s a bit more hit and miss; people on the street are about 50/50 (usually the people doing more joggy stuff are less likely to wear one) but they balance by staying away from each other. And going from the car to the grocery store is also about 50/50; they’ll put the mask on right before/as they go inside.

  19. Here in SoCal, for the most part people follow the mask rules inside the stores (don’t get me started about outside). Although, when I go to the market, I always see at least one or two douchebags taking off their masks (always a younger to middle dude) while shopping the aisles. The social distancing works for the most part, but because the market I go to is in a downtown area, it’s usually busy. I try to always keep away from people, but what I find funny is that if I’m standing and picking out an item to purchase, inevitably someone comes near me and instead of saying excuse me, they just grab something. Anyway, I digress. The nose thing is very popular among everyone and I’m not even going to go there because it makes my face melt and head explode (a combo of Raiders and Last Crusade).

  20. Like you I live in a very Republican dominated area West Michigan. Home of Besty (Batsy) DeVos. Mask wearing is spotty. When I see the nose hanging out I’m tempted to tell them it’s like walking around with their fly open. Maybe this is how the Roman Empire fell. Dumb people who can’t follow public health rules.

  21. The best rejoinder I’ve come across for responding to mask-mockers:
    “I’m just wearing it ’til my test result comes back or my fever goes down, but if you’d feel better if I took it off I’d be glad to make you more comfortable “

  22. I live in a generally conservative/Republican-voting area (but more center-right than hard over wing nut right), with the majority of people in the few places I’ve been (grocery store, library, and a couple of trips to the big box hardware store–not many outings for six months) wearing masks. But there is now a political battle between our D governor and R-controlled legislature where the legislature is demanding full stands for HS football games and bars/restaurants/gyms fully re-opened, the gov veto’ed the bill, and the legislature is now in the process of attempting to over-ride the veto. Sometimes I think we deserve everything we get. Like H. L. Mencken wrote, “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard”.

    My daughter lives in NYC. She reports that generally everyone is wearing masks (at least in her neighborhood) but living where the sirens were non-stop 24/7 back in March/April their experience has more upclose and personal than in many other parts of the country. Her job involves dealing with a variety of noxious chemicals/fumes, so during that time when she ventured out she was wearing her super duper respirator mask set-up that looks like a military gas mask–and no one was giving her a second look.

  23. Living just outside the anarchist jurisdiction of Seattle in deep blue King County pretty much everybody I see inside stores is masked up. Some of them, yes, mostly males, feel compelled to pull it down from their nose, though, rendering it useless. I have exchanged a few words with these, er, gentlemen. Some pull them back up, others reply with words that do not contain the vowels a, e, or i. I have no qualms about saluting them back. Outside it’s another story. Mask wearing goes way down. I’m not talking about distanced people, either, but groups. And yes, the young males are once again the worst offenders, although I see young women without them too.

  24. Though you might think otherwise of Alabama, here in the Huntsville area mask compliance has been quite high, among all demographics. Went to Kroger and Costco today, and three other small retail venues, and I don’t recall seeing anyone maskless, though I did see more noses than I should, and a couple of people who apparently think the chin is the viral entry/exit point.

    Compliance really has been surprisingly good (for a red state) ever since the governor put out the mandatory masking order. There are a few snarky signs at some smaller stories (e.g. “Due to the OVERREACTION of local officials you have to wear mask”), but by and large most everyone around here is going along with it so far.

  25. Like David B, I’m in a very red ATL suburb, and compliance with masks is mostly pretty good. The young of both genders appear to be the most likely to skip masking, and I often see couples without masks . If only one of the two is wearing one, it’s always the woman. I’ve been surprised at the number of seniors, men and women, who aren’t wearing masks. Most of the 60+ crowd are wearing them, but there is a small but nontrivial subset who aren’t that always surprise me.

  26. I live in Maryland, but within a mile of the Pennsylvania border, and it’s astonishing how much difference a state border makes. I live in a rural county, very much Trump country, but both of the Maryland towns I live near have almost-universal mask coverage (although way too many people with noses out). Less than 10 miles away, though, in PA, and it’s a completely different story, where almost nobody is walking around outside with masks, and you’ll often see people going in stores without one.

  27. I live in a swing district, in a swing county (Maricopa), in a swing state (AZ). Mask wearing indoors is really quite good, though I tend to pandemic shop mostly only at Costco (for general goods) and Sprouts (for groceries) – and those stores are betterer at enforcement, I think. As to outdoors, if you stay 6 feet away while hiking, you dont need a mask on. And that is easy to do. So that scenario does not worry me too much. Our republican governor is trump-like lax and has to be forced into taking any action. I think your posited correlation is valid- I think my district + county are going blue this year.

  28. Mountain View, California. Frigging everyone wears masks for indoor retail–it’s the law. Outdoors the vast majority either wears their mask the whole time or has it handy and puts it on if they’re going to pass/come close to another person. Some joggers without masks but they run into the road/bike lane if there’s someone else on the sidewalk. I wear my N95 at the grocery store or doctor/pharmacy; most people don’t, but I don’t get weird looks for doing it.

    I’ve seen some noncompliant teens. And the outdoor dining establishments have spotty mask use for obvious reasons. I’ve heard of parties, indoor and outdoor, still happening. But outwardly, old and young, men and women, as far as I’ve seen (and for obvious reasons I don’t go out a lot these days) people here wear their frigging masks.

  29. I live in Oakland, CA. Pretty solidly Blue America. About a week into the county wide mandatory mask directives being ordered by the County Health Commissioner here in Alameda County, I had to go to the hospital run by the County Health Department for a dental emergency.

    Not a single person working in the reception office at the dental clinic was wearing a mask. Not a single one.

    Nor was the County Sheriffs Department officer who was walking down the hall inside the goddamn hospital.

    So no. It’s not just Red America.

  30. Here in western MO, most men don’t wear masks. I rarely go out but, every time, I see most men from 14 to 80 without masks (80%). Of the men that are wearing masks, a good portion are wearing them below their nose and some below their chin.
    On the flip of the gender, I see about 15% of women over 30 without masks. Under 30, about 40%. Distancing is mostly followed.

    Makes me sigh every time.

  31. Here in purple-ish New Hampshire, in my relatively Republican (only 1 of our district state reps is a Democrat) area, I’m happy to report that mask-wearing is close to 100% regardless of age. Although our trips out have been necessarily limited, the folks we’ve seen not wearing masks are few and far between. That said, my very religious neighbors across the way did have a birthday party with 20+ folks and there were very few masks in evidence as we walked by, so there are certainly other vectors that aren’t necessarily as noticeable as, say, grocery shopping.

  32. In the redder part of LA county, probably that way because of a legacy of a military base being a major employer and it being more rural. For the most part I see a racial division between those wearing a mask properly and those not in the store. This store is big enough that they’ve had a greeter and security guard at the door controlling how many people in the store at once, and making sure people have masks.
    But the people I’ve seen taking masks off to talk, or having it below nose, or walking up and hugging the friend that they haven’t seen in a while for some reason are almost all of african american descent. I think this is likely the cause of the reported disparity in cases by race. On the other hand, the 2 employees that have died so far have both been older hispanic men, who were also known to not wear their masks consistently.
    The other category I’ve seen not wanting to wear masks has been a small number of elderly people who just seem to not be comfortable with it. Really they should be staying home. My parents haven’t left the house much except for doctor’s appointments since March.

  33. Tangent: Delighted to discover that residents of Victoria are Victorians. I don’t know why, but that entertains me greatly.

    I live in a blue splotch in a deeply red state (Trump won 60% in 2016, in what was considered by everyone who lives here to be surprisingly low, it’s predicted 98% sure that he will win MO again this year) and masks in the city are pretty much de riguer and no one seems to complain (I work at a bar with an outdoor patio). You can tell when people are from the county (rich suburbs) or Illinois (rednecks and less rich suburbs) because they’re the ones who not only won’t wear masks but are aggressive assholes about it.

  34. And regarding what Lisa said about high compliance, that’s what I tend to see (but not always) inside chain retail. At the local store around the corner from my apartment in West Oakland neither the employees, nor a large portion of the customers are ever wearing them.

    Even in trendier, bluer hoods like Walnut Creek, I’m never particularly surprised when I see someone inside a retail operation w/o a mask, and the staff don’t care generally.

  35. I live in Reston Virginia which, as you know, is very blue. Mask wearing indoors is close to 100%. Outdoors far less, at least when socially distancing. Although everyone lined up to vote Saturday seemed to be masked.

  36. This doesn’t bode well for the service economy. Mask wearing correlates with education, and education correlates with income. The most worried people are also the people who have the most money. The really rich, of course, bought themselves out of the equation ages ago, but the well off drive a disproportionate share to the economy, and they are more than willing to forgo some things if it means a lower chance of dying or becoming seriously ill. For example, the well off are less likely to be obese even if it means adopting an exercise routine and changing eating habits. Anyone watching the economic drop off earlier this year noticed that the economic collapse came before the mandated shutdowns, and no one is talking about big raises for the folks who are less likely to wear a mask.

    I’m out west of Seattle on the Olympic Peninsula, and the hiking trails are full of people wearing masks. Sometimes they wear them full time, sometimes they just pull them on as they approach others. This is the great outdoors, so there is plenty of room for some mask free breathing. There was one couple on Hurricane Ridge without masks. To their credit, they kept their distance and sheepishly apologized. Last week was different. Smoke from the forest fires in Oregon had our air quality at 300 or so, so just about everyone was wearing masks outdoors. In fact, we bought our stash of N95s back a few years ago when we had smoke from forest fires in BC>

  37. Greetings from the proud anarchist jurisdiction of Seattle!

    I work at a Trader Joe’s in a solid, deep blue area and mask wearing is pretty much 100% across ages and genders indoors and slightly less outdoors when you cannot avoid people. You can count on one hand the number of people that didn’t want to wear a mask.

    My neighbor Trader Joe’s is the most vigilant store in the city. You line up outside the store, the employees check to make sure you have a mask on, don’t bring in your resuable bags (you can leave them on a table outside), and only let you in when someone else comes out. They also clean every cart and basket between use. No one grumbles; not since the county made it mandatory.

    Living just outside the anarchist jurisdiction of Seattle in deep blue King County pretty much everybody I see inside stores is masked up.

    Yeah, it’s required, and stores seem to be enforcing it. Every now and then an asshole claims “I have a medical condition” which makes me roll my eyes (people with true respiratory conditions are VERY afraid of catching COVID, and definitely mask up if they must go outside). I jumped out of the path of a Boomer at Dick’s Drive In who played that card with the cashier and then decided to walk STRAIGHT TOWARDS me without a mask after receiving his ill-gotten burger & fries. He gave me a surprised look when he realized I was avoiding him. That’s how self-centered these people are. Even if he had a special condition, he could certainly transmit COVID-19 to me.

    On another interesting note, some of the most popular trails within 1-2 hours of Seattle now have signs at the trail heads, stating that you must wear a mask when you are unable to socially distance at 6 feet (common on narrow trails). Basically everyone is complying. I drove to Idaho to backpack (yes, I socially distanced; it’s much easier to do so on trails in a far-less populated state), and no one was doing the mask/Bandana/ Buff thing, where you pull it up over your face when you cross paths.

  38. I’m curious… If you don’t mind, which mask did you get that has the triple layer (one of them being an N95 layer)? Where can I get one?

  39. I’m in an *extremely* red county in NorCal and I’ve been pleasantly surprised so far – a pretty good number of people are actually wearing masks. There are still too many who either aren’t or are “technically” complying with the law but have it pulled down over their chins, exposing their noses and mouths…*sigh*. And the folks who are doing that seem to be mostly in their 20s-30s.

    Also same sitch re: forcing compliance – people don’t want to end up on social media getting verbally abused by anti-maskers, so eyes are rolled but everyone just moves on with their day.

    Anyhoo, I‘m basically doing what Mr. Scalzi’s doing and mostly staying home, only going out about once a month for necessities. I’m a colossal introvert, though, so the quarantine is actually working out pretty great for me. 🙂

  40. @kaleberg
    Smoke from the forest fires in Oregon had our air quality at 300 or so, so just about everyone was wearing masks outdoors. In fact, we bought our stash of N95s back a few years ago when we had smoke from forest fires in BC

    Wow, lots of PNWers here! I also had an N95 stash from the BC fires, so I’m like “I didn’t buy it this year and take it away from medical professionals…” (to assuage my guilt, I shipped some to a doctor friend). I am so glad the smoke finally blew out. I know a couple of people who got tested for COVID-19 recently, but it was actually just symptoms from the smoke.

  41. Here in KC, mask wearing has been mandated for the metro area since late July, so I’d say about 90% compliance inside buildings, at least in the northwest part of the city. Before that? 10% at best. 30% in the local Joann’s. I don’t know if that’s because most of their shoppers are women, or because crafters wanted to show off.

  42. Albany NY: weird. Infection rates very low, mask wearing at stores basically 100%, but relatively large numbers of unmasked families at e.g. playgrounds. I have been playing outdoor, over-40 soccer: about half of folks (of whom I am one) play masked at the local town park practice, but only maybe 20% at the city-wide Sunday games. I teach at the University: almost all classes remote, and on-campus 80-90% of students are (correctly) masked. About to be forced to go all online because we’ll just about exceed the governor’s 100-case threshold. School just went back in-person: our district is being as rational and sensible as we could hope, but as our 7th-grader says: still by far the riskiest thing any of us are doing. Overall: feels safe but nervous. We’re not dining inside, and it’s getting cold..

    Contrast to Ithaca NY where our son is a freshman at Cornell: as far as we can see 100% mask use, exactly 5 positive cases of the 30,000 tests this week (all campus members twice per week). He has at least one in-person class per day, and we are *so* glad we picked Cornell. Even the guy with the Trump 2020 facemask was wearing it correctly (!). Feels explicitly safe. If my wife didn’t hate cold so much we would just move.

    Contrast to our whack-job cousins in Iowa. Both now positive, but in the week since being tested (on release from hospital!) have been attending church, working door-to-door as a census taker, and the daughter went on vacation to Wisconsin (O joy). Claim that “the 98% survival rate” is sufficient reason not to worry. The health dept just today called to place them in mandatory quarantine – thank you! – but good grief: apparently mask-wearing really is seen as a sign of lack of faith or something.

    It’s been clear for a while that we’re lucky to be in NY if we have to be in the US. Getting ever clearer. Stay safe, all.

  43. A lot of my county is republican as well, but I’m a service tech, I’m in MULTIPLE homes daily, so I ALWAYS wear a mask. I am happy to report that a lot of my customers ask me if they need to wear a mask. I ask them all the usual questions they get when they go to the doctors office, I even keep a copy of the list on my truck if they get froggy. I am grateful a lot of my customers are so respectful. The ones who aren’t get a “You don;t know where I’ve been,” response from me and get the point.

  44. @ Xana: yeah. We were the test customers for our best beloved local restaurant when they were allowed to reopen. I *know* that they are trying their best; I’ve been there over the summer packing up meals for the local unemployed/homeless. And still: one “dick-nose” kitchen staff person; but worst was the sense of uncertainty about other patrons. I don’t know when we’re ever going to return to inside-dining, honestly.

  45. @literaterose Masks appear to be: Safe+Mate x Case-Mate – Cloth Face Mask – Washable & Reusable (from zooming in on Scalzi’s image)

  46. Vermont reporting in, the state that will be called first for Biden in November – but also the state with the lowest COVID rates by far, even controlling for our low population & rural nature. Any kind of population center retail establishment has near-100% masking, and when you don’t see it, it’s usually the over-40, under-60 dudes. That said, there are a handful of small convenience or grocery stores that are more frequented by farmers/truckers/tradesmen and it’s not uncommon for me to be the only person with a mask in those. I usually mentally cross the store off my list and move on. So even in this deepest of blue states, it correlates to political leanings.

  47. I live in a purple state, at the ass-end of the deep blue I-4 corridor.

    Both the city and county have a mask mandate, one that can give out civil citations, but usually only if you make an ass out of yourself.

    Grocery and big box Homey and Lowes are 80-85% mask on. In parks and such I haven’t seen any masks, but not a lot of folks are frequenting them.

  48. Anecdotal but interesting – the only person I noticed not wearing a mask at the local Spokane WA Winnco on a recent visit was a young guy shopping with a middle-aged guy wearing a Trump mask. (Not like Halloween; it had “Trump” on it). When I called the young guy out on it (I could point to the other guy and say “even this dude”, he said his mask had just broken and dramatically yanked his t-shirt over his nose. So in WA, even Eastern WA which is…um…”militia-curious” to “armed-white-insurrection-friendly”, there is some community acceptance of masks. It helps that we have an excellent governor.
    Of course, my wife reported seeing a pair of retirees trying to enter the local AFB commissary without masks the day the no-exceptions rule was instituted. Old boy started ranting about “Communist sheep” while old girl pretended she was in the next county, or possibly universe. Apparently Law Enforcement politely escorted them off base.
    I think if sheep were actually Communist there would have been an ovine insurrection long ago. Perhaps they are all Fabian socialists?

  49. [Deleted because this feels a like a whole lot of anti-masking BS attempting to sound “reasonable,” and I’m not here for that – JS]

  50. More anecdotal evidence. I live and teach in the Louisiana part of the ArkLaTex and am married to a PACU nurse who spent a good chunk of the spring working in her hospital’s COVID ICU. Mask wearing in our bluish-purple city is abysmal. The worst offenders here, in my admittedly limited experience, are women in the 18-45 range. At our local grocery store and big box store, it is often easier to count the people wearing masks correctly. At school, we’re fighting an uphill battle to keep masks on our students correctly. My limited experience is that high school age girls are far more likely to vocally object to being corrected in their mask wearing and are much more likely to remain non compliant. The high school boys grumble, but comply.


  51. I’m up in the east side suburbs of Cleveland and in general, mask compliance here has been good despite the relatively high frequency of Trump supporters (we are a couple minutes from the county line, and Geauga Co is very much Trump country). One of our local gas stations hasn’t been enforcing it and the owners themselves haven’t been wearing them, which is a shame because it’s a family owned business and they’re otherwise lovely people, but at least that doesn’t affect folks who are just pumping gas outside.

    Aside from that, I can only recall one instance in the past several months where I’ve been in a public building and people weren’t wearing masks, and I was very weirded out to see that they weren’t.

    On the other hand, my mom’s up in NW Ohio and masking there isn’t great according to her – it’s pretty much like what you’re describing in your area.

  52. Here in navy blue CT, the governor just added fines to the maskless ($100 for no mask; $250 to 500 for large gatherings) after a small second wave of infections. Basically everyone wears them, and I work in a grocery store and see a lot of people. You would not have believed the thousands we had during the Great Panic Buying standing inches from strangers to stock up of the most essential of survival foods (Eggo waffles, french fries and broccoli florets, hopefully not eaten in a big bowl together), but who wouldn’t buy a box if it had a tiny dent in it. It ain’t the box that could kill you, coming in and picking over it will.

    I saw one guy in a store parking lot, aged at least 75. He saw the dirty look I gave him when he wasn’t wearing a mask. This store was the strictest. Even early on they had a guy at the front refusing service if you had no mask or brought a reusable bag. So he quickly reached down, and pulled his mask from his pocket–Ha ha, he covered his face with his reusable bag. It was Total Wine, so I hope he had fun being sober that day!

  53. I’m in Alabama, in the light red Birmingham southern suburbs, and it’s a mixed bag, from what I can tell (I haven’t been in a grocery store or restaurant since March, since curbside pickup meets our needs just fine for both, but I have a clear view of the entrance to all the grocery stores we use). Large retail – WalMart, Publix – is essentially right at 100%. The WalMart corner store near me is strictly enforcing it, to the point that I’ve seen deputies having a calm discussion with a gentleman who apparently disagreed with them over his right to enter the premises unmasked; Publix and Sprouts don’t show as many signs of active enforcement but seem to be close to 100%. Smaller retail, like the convenience stores, is closer to 60%, I’d guess. I haven’t been in small retail to have any idea.

    Nobody wears masks to hike, although our Scout troop does require them whenever we’re gathered during a rest break or at an endpoint, and we do require them at all times during our outdoor weekly meetings. In general, most folks don’t wear them while outside; it’s a common sight to see folks putting them on in the parking lot while walking towards a store.

    Our high schooler is doing the online option but is participating in marching band after school. The kids seem to be completely willing to wear them indoors or while walking to the practice field, and the percussionists wear them at all times (although the visual element girls do not), but discipline is poor in the parking lot. The girls seem to be worse, although that’s probably just because socially they’re more likely to stop and talk in groups.

    The big weak point that I’ve seen is at high school football games. We splurged on booster club seats, where we have some distance set aside, but even there the mask count started at about 90% and has steadily declined as the weeks have gone on, probably down to about 50% now. Everyone wears one while walking to their seats, but they tend to come off then. Fortunately, the team isn’t great, so there’s not a lot to yell about, but that’s a small comfort; we’ve been going for the lightly-attended pregame time, the first half, and watching the halftime show before leaving. The student section is too crowded, since they’re only selling 1/3 of the normal tickets but not enforcing distance, so the students are all sitting in the bottom ten rows, but masks are at about 90% still. General admission is much worse, though, probably down to about 30% at this point. Again, the women seem to do worse than the men; there’s this seemingly universal dance of walking up to about two feet apart masked and then yanking the mask down to talk, which would seem to display a somewhat weak understanding of what’s actually going on.

  54. Interesting. Down here in Dayton (but a Trumpy edge neighborhood) mask wearing is also rare, but the age thing is different. People in the millennial range are mostly wearing them, younger than that aren’t, and middle aged to old aren’t. I am counting nose out as no mask here, though a lot of the older range just don’t have them at all. Also very much changes by location; the local bad Kroger is largely maskless, but Dorothy Lane Market or the nice Kettering stores are largely masked.

  55. I also live in Maricopa County, AZ. I tend to fall more in the right leaning moderate category, and I wear a mask pretty much any time I leave the house. It is common sense at least to my wife and I, but as you put it we have MS degrees so maybe that means something…

    I have found that it is the older people in my area that don’t want to wear the masks rather than the younger in public indoor places. I find that odd, since I am concerned for their health, but they don’t seem to be. Now I will admit that I am not at the bars and clubs so I am sure it is different there (at least my college students seem to indicate that).

    I also see that in the churches around here. The older people must be thinking “God will protect me” or something, because they wear a mask outside, but the moment they are inside they take them off. What is with that? My family has stayed away from our church because of that.

    I keep asking myself, “how hard is it to wear a mask?” and the answer is “It’s easy so you all should do it.” But people don’t. I am trying daily to not get worked up and so I stay home as much as possible.

  56. my NYC neighborhood got hit hard and there was about 85-90% compliance up till hot days of AUG; but now there are those who learnt but too many who’ve adopted a ‘Hollywood happy ending’ mindset resulting in not wearing masks;

    you can shoot me down for being non-PC/insensitive but mine eyes see (and ears hear) these facts: anyone without a mask tends to be either young, drunk or a speech pattern indicating lesser educated (grammar, word choice, slurring vowels), or an accent suggestive of being a recent immigrant; there is a halal Indian bodega I frequented pre-virus in which now-a-days staff grimmly refuse to mask and openly mock any who say anything to them, so that’s one fewer place I’m gonna shop;

    one tactic I adopted from watching someone else do, anytime it gets crowded inside a shop, especially if any unmasked fools, I loudly ask folks to maintain distance because I had cancer and if I catch virus there’s a 25% chance of death… its like they just needed to be reminded and everyone masks up and spreads out…

    only once it backfired when a smuck tore off my mask and spit in my face… whereupon all these others in line, all strangers, spontaneously and without a single word grabbed that particular smuck and shoved him outside and held back on punching him which was remarkable… they tried to let me line jump so to get my stuff and leave sooner but I insisted in waiting in line and thanked them for helping… perversely proud NYC moment that was…

    generally? folks are quicker to yell, at ever lesser moments of stress and yell louder and some folk are visibly trembling in suppressed rage… my interpretation of what I am seeing is that masking and distancing are now increasingly a way of demonstrating social dominance and personal power which given unemployment, political uncertainty, rising NYPD brutality complaints and too much time to brood in lonely apartments seem to make lots of folk increasingly stressed…

    my concern, 30 months more of this and there’s gonna be SRO when 12A meetings resume F2F because me and every other ex-addict-ex-boozer is gonna be drowning in our drug-of-choice and w/o health care it will get real bad…

    my hope is the virus behaves politely and does not mutate, otherwise seond wave will seamlessly flow into third, fourth, fifth, and *bang* we’re living inside a John Ringo novel

    my pride is in how most folk are shown to genuinely decent and deserve to survive this shitstorm

  57. I think it’s a case of finding what you want to find. I live in TN which is dep red and I find that almost everyone is wearing their masks when shopping. I think most of the non compliance problem extends to the “no need -do need” from the CDC. Many people still think the mask is to protect the wearer instead of just reducing the spread of the virus and thus slowing it down.

  58. What I’ve seen in Syracuse, NY, where Tammy and I live, is that the non-mask wearing population is largely older White Males who make it abundantly clear they will only wear a mask if it’s White and has point on top of it (if you know what I mean, and I think you do) — and young Black men.
    I started wondering why they weren’t wearing masks…until I realized, “Young Man of Color walks into a retail establishment wearing a mask that covers the lower half of his face — Now, does the clerk behind the counter and the local policeman buying donuts think, ‘Hey, that’s an upstanding citizen wearing his mask in public!’… or do they not bother thinking and just open fire?”
    Times like these, I hate my country and the bigoted imbeciles who breathe the same air I do….

  59. Over the age of 60, men wearing masks becomes more common, because they don’t want to die.

    I’d just point out that the POINT of wearing masks is to protect OTHER people. They do very little to protect you.

    Also, too: We live in what has now devolved into being the stupidest freaking country on the planet.

  60. Unfortunately up here in border country, we’ve got some problematic folks — white evangelicals, regardless of age (they’re not shy about the evangelizing). A pastor of one of these ardent mask-protesting congregations just tested positive for COVID-19, and it’s all over the excuse for a local newspaper; unfortunately, they couldn’t test for sheer stupidity, that would have been positive, too (this guy wrote a letter to the editor a couple of years ago protesting against the implied teenaged sex in Romeo and Juliet).

  61. I’m fortunate enough to live in a relatively sane southern California community, one in which rampant Trumpism (nextdoor is rife with covid-denying bigots and we’ve had two Trump parades within a two-week period) and anti-masking happen to be mutually exclusive.

    Maybe that has more to do with the prevalence of people with lots to lose (we’ve got plenty of tech-savvy folks around here willing to record and post videos of covidiots in the wild) than a genuine desire to protect their fellow man but, whatever works. 😊
    All I know is that the chance of contracting covid at my local grocery store/fast-food joints (100% compliance at all spots) is that much lower.

    Now, macho, anti-intellectual boneheads eschewing protective measures in an effort to showcase their “bravery” and “biological superiority”?

    Why, I’m dizzy with the shock of it!

    I’d say let the psychopaths be and allow nature to stomp their easily led, selfish, mush-brained carcasses into the ground, but I won’t because science.

    As I’ve said before, unless and until someone they care about gets reduced to a vomiting, feverish, wheezing, hacking bag of infection, the classist, white supremacist and otherwise half- baked narratives and theories they’ve consumed will continue to inform their attitudes and behaviors.

    With nearly a quarter of a million Americans dead, our economy in shreds, our global reputation in the toilet, second waves dampening Europe’s toes and the looming threat of a common flu/covid TagTeam over the Fall and Winter months, I’m all out of empathy and/or tolerance for arrogant, conspiracy theory guzzling , megalomaniacal idiots and faux patriots who delight in deploying their contagious snouts and pieholes in a sociopolitical pissing match with science, facts, and morality.

    I have no qualms about checking people who violate my personal space under normal circumstances, so thumping on bare-faced covidiots who want to get up close and personal won’t be an issue.

    Covidiots gonna covidiot, be they AR 15 toting, Swastika waving Trumpists, anti-vaxxers or Tree-hugging, full-throated supporters of the Biden/Harris ticket. I and others are equal opportunity shamers.

    And establishments sporting petulant little signs about masks get the kind of “overreaction” that hurts the pocketbook. Vote with your feet and all that.

  62. So here in the UK, about 15 mikes SW of London it’s pretty widespread – mostly cloth ones altho a fair amount also seem to be medical masks on their 3rd or 4th wear and often only covering the mouth not nose (wtf!!). However we seem to have a double whammy hanging over our head as despite all over 50s being eligible for flu jab this year, unless the GP prescribes one (for asthma, etc) you can’t get one as no stock🙄. Fantastic planning there BoJo

  63. I’m in a very blue college town in a blue county along the Colorado Frong Range. Last I heard, the mandate is: mask indoors, and outdoors if 6 feet of distance can’t be maintained. We’re currently having an upswing because of the previously mentioned college. :-\

    I only go out only for food and medicine, and exercise. Indoor compliance is pretty damn close to 100%. I shop biweekly very early on Sunday, when the store is nearly empty. One or two dick-noses, but a snide remark often fixes that. Outside—depends a lot on what part of town, and generally correlates with apparent age/income/gender, as John describes in the OP. I get so angry, I’ve stopped going for walks unless I can get out before sunrise when nobody else is around.

    I went in for a medical procedure, and was shocked to wake up to the recovery room nurse with her nose exposed. I pointed this out, and she said, “I know,” and made no move to fix it. I…reported this to the patient advocacy office. They seemed suitably appalled.

    The cutest variant I’ve seen was a young (college students?) couple scurrying around the grocery store, holding their shirts up over their faces, mask-fashion. I deduced they were new to town. Gave them full points for compliance and pointed out the service desk might give them masks. They thanked me, and I thanked them (emphatically) for making the effort.

    Nb wrt mask effectiveness: @WhiskersOnKittens’s explanation squares up with my understanding, and I’ve also been reminded of the heaven/hell spoon metaphor. My mask is a bandana with the “middle” corners tied up under my chin. This actually makes for a surprisingly tight seal. I go bandana-only when I’m out walking. Indoors around other people, I add a two-layer insert of tight-weave bedsheet material. (If you hold it up, you can’t see a bright light through it, which I’ve heard is a quick guage of “filter density”.) In lieu of laundering between uses, I leave an open pot of water on the stove when I go out. When I get home, mask goes into the pot. Wash hands, then lid goes onto the pot and pot gets boiled. Boiled mask then gets hung to dry for the next use. Mask also otherwise also goes through the weekly laundry.

    I’ve actually had occasion to do an A-B test: the hospital made me change into a disposable, and I found that to be a far less complete seal than my four-layer cotton version. Had to unmask (obviously) at the dentist last week, and I was amazed at the amount of aerosol-blockage that suddenly wasn’t there.

    I’m going to be working the election this year (Pray for me. Pray for us all!), and I’m thinking about adding safety glasses, as I’ve been seeing interesting research suggesting glasses-wearers are under-representing in hospitalized covid patients, meaning eye covering may offer additional protection.

  64. Here where I live in CT, the cities are pretty good at masking up in public when needed (not a hard 100% mask here, only in public buildings is it required). In my slice of suburbia, people don’t have a tendency to mask up when they’re out and about (e.g. walking, running, hiking, biking) but do practice very anti-social distancing when they come across someone that they don’t know (I do it myself by going at least 10 feet around someone when I’m out for my walks or hikes). Otherwise, life goes on.

  65. @Kevinrs:

    Citation please on the correlation between the prevalence of covidiocy among POC and the disproportionate impact of covid on their communities.

    Also, assuming your anecdote is true, it fails to exculpate white supremacist covidiots (bet they outnumber the brown skinned covidiots) who view covid as some kind of ethnic cleanser.

    The defensive and deflective “they do it to themselves” argument is so tired it shouldn’t be let near heavy machinery.

    And instead of suggesting certain demographics stay home (this assumes that doing so is even an option), why not encourage “safe” demographics to put others’ needs ahead of their own and be apart of the “law and order” for which they purport to stand.

    And lest you imagine the message implicit in your supposition went unnoticed, you’re dead wrong.

    Just once, I wish people would acknowledge failings in their own camp rather than resorting to whataboutism, especially of the bigoted variety.

  66. Turns out, masks really do protect you as well as whoever you happen to share air with. In fact, new research seems to indicate that masks act as a sort of vaccine, giving the wearer a low enough dose of SARS-CoV-2 that produces an asymptomatic infection sufficient to confer some immunity.

    So, yes, the maskless wonders are potential winners of the Darwin Award as well as brazen oxygen thieves.

  67. In Anchorage, Alaska most people are wearing masks. At my job, masks are mandatory. That being said, there is a lot of dick face, and there are a lot of people who seem to be incapable of talking without pulling their mask down

  68. Interesting to read perceptions from elsewhere. Here in the Austin, TX metro area we’ve largely outperformed other areas of the state throughout the pandemic. That’s not really anecdotal since my anecdotes are pretty limited. I’ve been following different studies and reports by different organizations (e.g. UT COVID-19 Modeling Consortium, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia PolicyLab’s COVID-LAB) that use different techniques, data sources, and models. Statistics on social distancing from cell phone data from different sources, for example, show we have done better than much of the state at pretty much every stage of this pandemic. We were on track in April to do what many countries have done before our governor intervened and overruled local measures.

    By and large, we have not been doing much. Most of my excursions have been to stock up on groceries once every 3 weeks with the household list. The same is true for my wife and youngest. We even stopped seeing my younger son outside once he had to go back to work in a job that has a lot of exposure. My wife has weekly zoom happy hours with him. Compliance was mixed in the early days before mayors and county judges “figured out” the governor’s super-secret hidden mechanism for issuing enforcable mask orders. The same governor was forced to relent not long afterward and issue a mostly state-wide mask order. Since then, I see universal masks in grocery stores in the early morning hours when I do our shopping. I see them on the occasions I pick up curbside takeout.

    I do my early morning jogs/walks before dawn most days and I don’t go on trails or other populated areas. I stick to my suburban neighborhood streets and sidewalks. So I don’t wear a mask then since it’s easy to maintain lots of distance from the few others I encounter. Some wear masks while out walking in the neighborhood. Others do what I do and just keep away from everyone. Obviously that would be harder in more densely populated areas than our neighborhood.

    Since compliance seems pretty widespread from my very limited exposure, I don’t have any general sense about those who don’t. There were news reports of college students coming back to town and a lack of masks/distancing during rush week, but not a lot since then.

  69. Connecticut here, transmission rate going up, possibly connected to trying to open schools?
    I always wear a mask if I need to go into a store, which is usually the early senior grocery hour where everyone is wearing a mask. One time a woman was there without a mask and suddenly realized she’d forgotten hers, and she practically died of embarrassment right in front of me. Since then I think the store has offered masks if you forget yours.
    If I’m walking around the block I don’t wear a mask, but if I actually see a human on my walk I’ll move to whichever side of the road they aren’t on. The people I see during my walk aren’t masked either. Sometimes I feel guilty when I’m booking it up a steep hill with my heavy breathing so close to someone’s front yard, even though I don’t think I’ve gotten the covid.
    A couple months ago I had to take my car in for routine maintenance, and that was the only place where employees weren’t masked and customers weren’t being asked to mask. When they sent me their annoying after-survey, I may have said, “Why don’t you just put up a big sign saying you wish all the old people would die off.”
    Also, I believe I may be old enough to say that maybe we should have just let all us old people die off. There’s easily more than ten times too many people on the planet anyway. The Spanish Flu did not kill nearly enough people to solve our current overpopulation; plus apparently it didn’t really hurt the economy that much. [serious/not-serious]

  70. Deep, deep red resident here: my experience is similar to yours, John. I don’t talk to anyone because I am tired of the conspiracy-laced whingeing about gummint tyrrany from EVERYONE. Discouraging. (While I was waiting for a tire replacement, some random guy–unprompted–went from the mask I was wearing to baby-killing abortioninsts in about three minutes of escalating harangue.)

    This contagion does seem perfectly adapted to destroy the US. It least affects those least interested in others’suffering. It most affects those who garner the least sympathy from the vast majority of the population. Its consequences vary hugely among individuals, and it spreads so erratically that it is difficult for epidemiologists to pin down. It’s a virus, so its invisible. (The US rate of acceptance of germ theory is probably around 28%. Most USers seem to assume disease is a result of sin. My mother does.)

    Anyway. Red America is a scary place in good times if you aren’t pretty red yourself.

  71. Thanks for all the comments. I’m in below-the-line Brooklyn, so I don’t know if Barr counts us as “anarchist” or that’s just Manhattan and Williamsburg. We’re in the reddest part (almost 50-50, I’d guess) of a very blue borough in a very blue city. Of course, indoor dining is still banned in restaurants, so that isn’t an issue – we will not be indulging once it reopens September 30 – and we mostly go only to a few places – local grocery stores, Costco, hair and nail salons for my wife. Stores here require masks and NO ONE refuses that I’ve seen. Walking from here to the store, it is hit and miss. People walking their dogs or riding bikes are usually unmasked, but the closer you get to the Avenue, the higher the percentage is with masks. Of course, many wear them as chin guards when they are not in a store, or when they are on the phone, or drinking coffee.

    We’ve pretty much ruled out indoor dining, concerts, movies, and most of all flying, even when all these resume because we’re old and want to keep on living. I wouldn’t mind if the MAGA morons just infect each other, but seriously, WTF is wrong with the people of this country? WEARING A MASK IS THE ABSOLUTE LEAST YOU CAN DO, and if it is really too onerous for you, you are a selfish moron who should be ashamed of yourself.

  72. On the “masks protect others, not you” issue – even without newer studies showing even better numbers, the early chatter was that you got about a 30% reduction in your own inhalation vs a 70% reduction on what you spewed into the air around you.

    While 30% by itself is a failing grade, as an improvement to your own fortunes it’s pretty damn great considering the cost. My favorite example is that role players would equip a +3 item within a second of getting it, but I find “you wouldn’t be excited by a 30% improvement in your chance of getting the lotto numbers?” works pretty well too.

  73. I live in the Montréal suburbs. The worst I saw was at the grocery a dude wearing a mask that didn’t cover his nose and going the opposite direction as the arrows on the floor. I was very angry at the time, but reading your article made me glad that that’s the worst I saw.

  74. Interesting note. I live in rural Texas. Most definitely Trump country. And I rarely see anyone who isn’t wearing a mask out in public these days. In my own anecdotal survey, I find that most people are wearing them.

  75. “I wouldn’t mind if the MAGA morons just infect each other”
    This is going on a T-shirt.

  76. @Jaws — as a theater major, may I just say the teenage sex in Romeo and Juliet is hardly “implied”. It may not be taking place on stage, given that Elizabethan theater wasn’t allowed to use actresses, but that marriage was definitely consummated. (As evidence that pastor is an idiot, it still works.)

    Back on topic: I’m in Omaha NE, working for a dry cleaners. Mask usage for employees who deal with customers has been mandatory all through this mess, the city finally imposed a mask mandate last month. While most of my customers have been wearing masks properly, I get at least two or three per shift who walk in, see me putting my mask on before approaching the counter, and apologize for “forgetting” theirs. I’m lousy at estimating ages, but I’d guess most of the “forgetful” ones are middle-aged.

    Any restaurant that can squeeze a few tables onto an outdoor patio is still doing so, the weather won’t be too bad for outdoor dining for at least a month. On the other hand, some of those patios are awfully small and I have to wonder if there’s any benefit to outdoor dining when tables are crammed together. With four high-risk people in the family, we’re trying to stick with takeout; if we go to a restaurant, we aim at nonpeak times and only go places where we can ask for a table away from other customers.

  77. I’m in San Francisco, and most everyone is compliant; but as you say, when I do see someone walking around without a mask, it’s usually a young(er) white guy. Once in a while I’ll see a white woman without a mask, but it’s unusual. People of color are, at least in my neighborhood at the times I’m out and about, 100% compliant.

    It makes sense, in a way: our mayor led the way early, locking us down and strongly advising mask usage, a good week before most of the rest of the country. Our mayor is also a Black woman and a very good communicator. And we have friends and neighbors who are invisibly dealing with compromised immune systems due to HIV.

    Impact: in six months SF has had just under 11,000 confirmed cases, and 99 deaths in a city of nearly one million residents. We’re starting to reopen, slowly, but the tourist industry is going to be hurting for a long time, and that’s huge here.

    Are we tired of it? God, yes. But we’ve been through a different kind of plague before now: SF was hit hard by the AIDS epidemic, and public health officials, hospitals, all the unseen people who do their best to protect us, had plans already in place to do vital, thankless jobs like contact tracing. And thanks to the efforts of one Kamala Harris among others, there were avenues in place for city officials to reach out to undocumented workers and their families. To help, to advise, to test and treat.

    It hasn’t been handled perfectly, particularly early on. But we’re in better shape than we could be, and what I see around me is determination to maintain that status quo. City leadership was quick to act, plans were already in place, and people took the crisis seriously. (As a side note, I wonder how much of a role earthquake preparedness and earthquake drills play in all of this. Certainly for hospitals to mobilize and cooperate as quickly and fully as they have, those drills and lines of communication must have helped immeasurably.)

  78. I live in a suburb of Buffalo, NY, and the only places I really go anymore are grocery stores. It seems like I rarely see people just not wearing masks; on the other hand, the number of people I see walking around with their noses out of their masks is kind of depressing. I always end up thinking to myself “then WHY BOTHER?” and never say anything. (I should possibly note here, for the record, that none of these people ever seem high.)

    If I had to actually go to work I would (hopefully) see masks everywhere. My boss told me in late March the higher-ups gave everyone five company-branded masks, and they’ve been mandatory since, but I work for a pharmaceutical manufacturer, so … well. I would hope people would be sensible, anyway, and if not others would likely say something. I’ve been working from home since mid-March, though.

  79. We’ve been in the redzone basically since April with a little tiny break in the orange zone between the county starting a mask order and the students coming back.

    When I went to get a mammogram this summer most of the receptionist people were wearing their masks either below the chin or at the very least below the nose. One had it dangling off an ear. There was no room to social distance in any of the waiting areas because there were too many people. So… not great compliance at the doctor’s office. My dentist office has been spotty as well– the dentist himself took his mask off to inform me sadly that I would probably need a root canal, and one of his assistants could not keep her nose covered for the life of her. But at my first appointment in my crown saga, he had three layers of protective equipment including a face shield…. yet as the corona incidence got worse, he started shedding it.

    My students are good about masking in class. One of my returning students (a middle-aged white dude) is definitely only giving lip service with his single layer neck gaiter and has said multiple times he doesn’t believe in that covid stuff. I’ve been teaching long enough that I now have students who have gotten and recovered from covid and they turn to him and say they don’t wish covid on anybody. They’re less good about not touching each other. They’re less good about not congregating in the hallways. And I’ve seen students mask off loitering in the hallways eating things with other students in little clusters.

    I teach super early so I see construction workers mostly but not completely masked. When I get out of class after the building manager and administration have gotten here, they are 100% masked.

    Have not been to a grocery store in person since this started (instacart has become increasingly terrible, but another grocery store has decent curbside), but one of the people we follow on yelp has been rating all of them based on how many people in the store are not masked or social distancing. He’s noted the same patterns you have and suggests people shop at the natural foods store since it’s the only one that actually enforces any safety rules.

  80. As noted by others, but worth repeating, we’ve learned a lot since March when the experts were focused on surface transmission and discounting aerosols. This has flipped since, and masks plus social distancing are quite effective – though not effective enough to justify non-essential activities by the at-risk, including everyone over 60.

    The social distancing limits were based on direct droplet transmission rather than aerosols. Any indoor situation with circulating air is going to be dangerous, at any distance – less so with masks.

    I’m not out enough to have even significant anecdotal evidence but in Princeton NJ medical/dental environments follow rules 100%, and the young folks downtown don’t, generally. Incidence here is relatively low after extended lockdowns in the spring.

  81. @Leah:

    <sarcasm> Once they’re married, it’s not teenaged sex. Getting married makes one fully adult in the eyes of the community and the entire religious-thingy. Even if that’s at fourteen. Because this pastor has said so in so many words in other places, and sermons, and protests downtown against a new state sex-education law that actually has some (not enough) science behind it. </sarcasm>

    More decades ago than I should admit to, I grew up about 120km away, and the area between here and the border was notorious even then for the evangelicals (two of the biggest “religious-software” companies are headquartered here, not Nashville). And the popularity of President’s Day bedding sales for refurbishing one’s wardrobe. The only place on the blue side of the state that hosted a rally for Our Dear Leader in 2016 was that pastor’s base. (As of last year, the town was still paying off the extra security measures.)

  82. I live in CT, which is bluer than blue. If folks don’t wear a mask, they get fined $100. Hooray for our governor! I’m an essential employee at the state’s largest hospital. That N95 mask John is wearing is not good. The chief Medical Officer at my hospital says don’t wear that kind. Either 2 valves or no valves. Please John, don’t wear that particular mask anymore. My local grocery store has an employee whose job is to sanitize each grocery cart. The only people I see not wearing masks properly are men. Mostly men over 30. Every female I see wears masks properly. ONE VENTILATOR HOLE MASKS ARE NOT GOOD!!!

  83. cavyherd: “I’ve actually had occasion to do an A-B test: the hospital made me change into a disposable, and I found that to be a far less complete seal than my four-layer cotton version.”

    The hospital I visit once a month requires that everyone entering the building replace personal masks with their own disposables; the explanation I got (from another visitor, not a hospital employee, so I’m not sure how authoritative it is) was that the hospital maybe couldn’t be sure that visitors hadn’t been wearing the same mask for days at a time without washing or ever replacing that mask–so the personal mask might be heavy with virus and you couldn’t tell just by looking at it. Whereas if they provide the mask, they know it’s new and clean. Again, fwiw, but it made a certain amount of sense to me . . . especially given the close quarters of hospital examination rooms and the general vulnerability of the population.

  84. @Kevinrs: “I think this is likely the cause of the reported disparity in cases by race.”
    I think you are likely ignoring all the other things that are impacting BIPOC – things like more BIPOC holding service jobs or essential worker job and making lower incomes, therefore having to go back to work even when it’s not necessarily safe to do so. Also those BIPOC who are part of the service industry and making lower incomes who have to rely on public transportation where they cannot socially distance. Or the documented instances of doctors taking BIPOC health concerns less seriously than the health concerns of white people. But you go ahead and do you and victim blame them for “not wearing their masks right”. Because that’s not racist at all.

    Moving on. Like a couple of others here, I live in the north Atlanta suburbs – a tiny blue dot in a sea of red. My experience has been that mask wearing is about 80% at the grocery stores. The remaining 20% is some who are “wearing” a mask below the nose or tucked under the chin or those who just clearly don’t care and aren’t going to. The improper wearing is split between men and women but the not wearing at all is mostly men and I’d judge men 40 and under.

    I’m not the mask police, so I don’t say anything to anyone about mask wearing, but I’ve asked multiple people to step back or step away or distance themselves and especially those who choose not to wear masks or who wear them incorrectly. So far I haven’t gotten any shit-losing or pushback, but I’ve gotten a few eyerolls and dirty looks. I don’t really care.

    What did freak me way the eff out was that a couple of weeks ago we decided to do a pickup order from one of our favorite restaurants in one of those planned entertainment live/work/play communities (Avalon on 400 for those who know it). The plan was for BF to drop me off to pick up the food, drive around the block, and pick me back up again. The place was PACKED. Not just the restaurant but the streets, the sidewalks, the stores, the common areas … all of it. People shoulder to shoulder and maybe 10% of them at most wearing masks. I kept trying to back away from people while I was waiting for the car to come around the block and there was nowhere for me to go that I didn’t actually physically bump into non-mask wearing people. And these were people of all genders and ages. I don’t know if it was the last hurrah of summer “getting outside” or what but holy schneikes!!

    So we’re not going and doing that again for love nor money. It’s back to Uber Eats for “eating out”.

  85. Slightly bluer part of Ohio here (in that the county only went 55% for Trump and actually has a slight chance to flip this year) and I’m seeing a good bit more compliance, at least at stores that enforce the mandate, which is most larger retailers. Unfortunately, I work at a C-Store and unlike the bigger stores in our area, we have been specifically told by corporate NOT to enforce mask mandates on customers, while simultaneously noting that WE will be fired if we don’t wear them. The reason for that is pretty obvious, if a Covidiot starts something at Wal-Mart or Target or some similar place, there are gonna be half a dozen employees right there for backup, we’re lucky if there are three employees on the property at once. Not worth the hassle. I’d say compliance in our stores is roughly 50/50, somewhat better if you count having a mask vaguely near your face. I’d say of those that DO wear masks, less than half can manage to do it right, nose out is probably 50% and down on the chin another 10-15%. And then there are those that put it on right, and pull it off to talk. Sigh.

  86. I live in Chicago. I commute on public transit, which is supposed to have a mask mandate. I would guess about 70% compliance, masks properly worn, another 20% wearing masks improperly, nose hanging out, or mask on chin, about 10% no mask at all. The bus operators never say anything, apparently they’re told not to for fear of being assaulted.

  87. I’m in CT too (shout out to all the other CT peeps). I’m in a red pocket of the blue and it certainly doesn’t feel bluer than blue anymore. Especially not with the 3rd Trump boat parade happening this weekend. But anyway – masks! There is the new rule in place but I doubt it will be enforced. I have been attending as many outdoor music events as I can before the world shuts down again and even though for the most part people are following the rules, there are some outliers. And this past weekend I attended an event (I won’t name place or location) and it felt like pre-covid days. I was horrified and I won’t be going back there again. Added bonus – there were cops in the parking lot so yeah, not so much with the enforcing.

    We are required to wear masks at work although I take mine off while I’m at my desk. There’s no one else around me and I put mine on when someone comes by. But I am hard of hearing and life long lip reader and even with hearing aids, the masks make communication difficult for me with certain people. So for those people, I have asked if they are comfortable taking theirs off when we’re speaking (and we’re 6 feet apart) and so far no one has reported me to HR.

  88. It’s a cultural masculinity barrier here. And it’s baked in hard, and difficult to climb over. I’ve gone over it myself, but it wasn’t easy (and I’m hippy-pinko-lefty compared to other Canadians, let alone to American reds and blues).

  89. blood-red Douglas County CO here, and nearly everyone is masked. This may be because of the state mask mandate. There was a street demonstration for Trump where everyone was not masked, but in the grocery store etc people are masked up.

    We’ve driven to MN twice recently, once to fetch son from college, again to deliver younger son to college. MN is masked. In NE and KS we got mocked and derided at the gas stations, for wearing masks. This wasn’t an isolated incident, it happened several times, to my wife, myself, son’s friend.

  90. Blue Blue Blue New Haven, Connecticut, here. (Hello, fellow CT folks!) Supermarket and post office masking are pretty universal, though occasionally there’s a nose visible. But the pizza place I get takeout from is going to lose my business if they don’t start masking up. Last weekend I stood in the doorway and asked loudly why they don’t wear masks, and a couple of employees pulled them on.

    Also, yeah, Romeo and Juliet, Juliet was definitely looking forward to her wedding night:

    Come, civil night,
    Thou sober-suited matron all in black,
    And learn me how to lose a winning match
    Played for a pair of stainless maidenhoods.

    And since they spent it together, I doubt they just played pinochle.

  91. @Ewan: Yes, there have been a number of studies on mask efficacy. The paper I referenced is hot off the presses, though, so it takes all of that into account and indeed attempts to explain how masks protect.

    Efficacy was obvious from the gecko, however. Why else would medical professionals be desperate for N95s (still in short supply)?

  92. From Texas here, and I’ve been wearing a mask when going out for essential errands, like grocery-shopping. But I get them via curbside service. I order the groceries online, pay, schedule a pick-up time, and then head on over to the store at the designated time to get the groceries. The workers are all required to wear masks. Unfortunately, on my way to and from the store, I see TOO MANY people WITHOUT masks. People, wear your masks!

  93. @Kat: Wow. Thanks for the link to that study. That’s both really interesting and quite reassuring, and also squares up with other bits I’ve heard.

  94. Southern Los Angeles County, here. 98% masked on the street. We don’t shop, we have it all delivered. I wear my mask outdoors except when closed into my car. I find that if there is difficulty with social distancing, just coughing will clear quite a space. I swallowed a bug on a walk one day (I was far from everyone) and started to cough to try to clear it. I had people crossing the street to avoid being near me. Made me laugh, in between coughing spasms.

  95. In the SF Bay Area, the only time you see someone outside without a mask is when they are exercising. Everyone wears a mask in stores. Many stores have senior-only hours for the first hour they are open. I run a little music group who meet in the park every other Saturday. We’re all string players, so we can wear masks and play our instruments and we sit six feet apart. I’ve never had anyone show up without a mask.

  96. Oh, and in my former work place, there is a sign when you enter the parking lot that a mask is required at all times. You’re supposed to wear it when you get out of your car. The city of Fremont called for a full inspection of the plant (an essential business, making media heads for data storage – a class 100 clean room which has always required masks for decades) when police saw a vendor get out of his car without a mask.

  97. I live in a county that abuts John’s and the political demographics are pretty much the same. I wear a mask whenever I go out (66 years old, so, I’m in a vulnerable group). I worked from home from March to August, but have worked in the office since the beginning of this month, largely because my company moved into new quarters and I gained an actual office with a door to replace my cubicle at the old location. I mask up when I leave my office. None of my fellow workers are wearing masks except for those who are still choosing to work from home when they have to stop by the office. When shopping, I find that a majority of people of all ages are wearing masks of some sort. I have been cutting my own hair cause getting a professional cut isn’t worth risking my life and tend to shop when the local Kroger and Walmart first open, before the later rush. Fortunately, I have not met anyone who criticized (at least face to face) my wearing of a mask while in public.

  98. I’m in Northern Colorado, in a county that’s gone blue, but surrounded by red counties. Masks are mandated inside buildings. In the stores I see mostly mask-wearers, and the ones who aren’t have this aura of “just try to tell me to wear one, I’m itchin’ to get mad at somebody today”. But in my limited shopping trips I haven’t seen much of that.

    There is one convenience store where I get gas sometimes- when I went inside to get a soda, two younger employees were behind the counter, maskless. I didn’t say anything but left quickly. The next time I stopped by, there was a sign on the door that said “Several employees have medical conditions that prevent them from wearing masks.” I am not a doctor so can’t speak on conditions for that, but I won’t be going back to that store.

    I flew to Phoenix last week for a family emergency, and everyone I saw at both airports were masked. American and Frontier both made mask announcements, and nobody raised a fuss on the planes.

  99. I’m trained in respirator use and wear them regularly on the job (botany/horticulture), and the phrase “N95 insert” for a cloth mask is making my eye twitch. There may be a layer of the filtration material used in N95s in there, but unless the mask forms an air tight seal to the face, and doesn’t allow any air inside except through the filter, and catches 95% of microscopic particles of a certain size, and is certified by NIOSH to do these things, and is properly fitted (NB: it is impossible to fit most respirators if you have facial hair), it’s not providing the level of protection expected from an N95 respirator. I’m sure it’s a perfectly good mask that gives some protection to the wearer and better protection to others from the wearer’s germs; I’m just saying you shouldn’t behave as if it is providing a COVID-ward-nurse level of protection, or really anything more than you expect from a simple cloth or surgical mask.

    Also, re: another earlier comment: nobody should be wearing masks with one, two or any other number of exhalation valves, out in public during the pandemic. The whole point of these valves is to make the mask more comfortable to wear and increase the lifespan of the filter material, by directly venting unfiltered germ-laden air from the wearer’s exhalations. (Assuming the exhalation valves function as one-way valves at all, which I wouldn’t believe for a second for the rando masks being advertised everywhere.)

  100. I live in Canada in a province that I guess would be the equivalent of your blue states as we voted in a Conservative government for the last two elections. We do not have mandatory mask wearing but many establishments require them and I see a lot of compliance across all age groups. And mask wearing has been increasing the past month because after having 13 days of no positive cases the numbers of cases started going up. However, we now have more active cases than we had during the height of our lockdown. Bars, casinos, restaurants are all open and surprise, surprise all the alerts the government puts out about possible exposures have to do with those types of places. So I don’t think mask wearing is sufficient to prevent transmission; people need to stay home unless they absolutely have to go out. Visits to bars, casinos and restaurants are seldom necessary.

  101. I live in a bluish suburb of a very blue metro area (Seattle), so masking is almost universal. Not 100%. But in my outings (max. distance from home I’ve been is 7.7 miles—Home Depot—since March 8) I would at most see one or two people without. And they are usually angry looking white guys. (Not witnessed any confrontations here, thank goodness). It’s universal enough that my local Nextdoor group went haywire when someone reported that the local grocery store wasn’t enforcing its mask rule. (Nextdoor, I’ve found, tends to make my sleepy suburb sound like Kabul on some days.)
    So I count myself lucky, especially since I’m susceptible to respiratory ailments.

  102. Masked greetings from the anarchist jurisdiction of Seattle: From what I’ve seen of retail people are generally good about wearing masks and wearing them properly. I’ve mostly been working from home, but when I go in to the lab there is a requirement for masks unless you are alone in your own office or in a bathroom stall (in the rest of the bathroom mask up).

    I was pondering patio dining this week, but now that fall has arrived as a deluge, that’s not something I have to worry about anymore.

    Running this summer I wore a mask whenever there were other people nearby-ish (so my mask might be down but easy to pull up). There was about an equal ratio of men to women who didn’t wear any mask while running.
    Walking, on the other hand, is very weird. I saw (and keep seeing) lots of couples out walking where the woman is wearing a mask and the man is not. Sometimes he’s got it in his hand, but usually it’s no where to be seen. And this was couples of all ages, from teens to people who looked quite elderly. Me, I ran my solo half-marathon wearing a mask ~80% of the time (again, when there were other people around).

    Honestly, the only people I regularly see not wearing masks are the teenagers who live across the street, and … I’ve decided not to be mad at them. Sometimes they wear masks, and sometimes they social distance, but I can tell from their body language alone that they’re having a hard time with all of this, and having me yell at them isn’t going to do anything positive. At least they stopped car surfing.

  103. Oregon 211 operator here, writing to say I haven’t had a call from a mask denier in 3 weeks. Usually I get at least one person a week who calls with concerns about the “science and data” behind mask wearing. If they are civil and not shouty I give them the Lancet article referenced above. I haven’t had any of those calls since 9/10 which is when the fires became all anyone cared about in 3/4 of the state. Now that it’s raining and the fires are mostly contained, it will be interesting to see if the mask deniers pop back up.

  104. As a member of multiple disabled communities, I understand all about “reasonable” accommodations and working within physical limitations.

    If you have a medical condition that precludes you from pandemic-era safety measures, you need to figure out how to manage that condition in a way that won’t infect or kill others. There is no excuse to go bare-faced when interacting with the public.

    Figure out delivery and remote options like everyone else.

    Do what millions of elderly and/or disabled people in this country do and adapt already.

    Can’t avoid going out? Put the damn mask on.

    I’m a blind woman and can’t drive, so I tag friends/relatives and avail myself of transportation services for the disabled.

    Me behind the wheel would almost certainly cost lives (mine and others’), so I’d be childish and clown shoe as hell pitching a fit about “ma freedom!”

    I have a white cane to help me safely navigate different areas.

    I’ve gone through weeks of intensive, physically demanding orientational mobility training so that I could do things as basic as cross the street, work a job or get an education.

    I’ve had to quickly learn to operate multiple forms of assistive technology so that I could semi-function on a computer.

    I have to take portable chairs to the grocery store because standing and waiting for family members to collect items becomes physically painful after too long.

    I am one of millions of differently abled people for whom creativity, assistance, inconvenience and extra work are a matter of course, so please don’t mind if I sneer at disability appropriating covidiots attempting to mobilize advocates in their war on pandemic mitigation.

    Those gas-station employees are beneath contempt.

  105. I work in a tiny office in Amherst, MA and wandered across the street to CVS today to get my flu shot. Customers of all ages were masked. In fact I have not seen anyone in a retail establishment in my area without a mask since we went into quarantine in March. That said, I’ve probably only gone into a store (other than for groceries) about once a month.

  106. In Chicago, near north side, pretty blue all around, everyone wears masks in grocery stores and pharmacies that I go to. Outside, it’s about 50-50, but I worry less about that as long as they keep their distance (and I always keep my mask on).

  107. @Mary Frances “Whereas if they provide the mask, they know it’s new and clean.”

    A point I hadn’t thought of, thank you. The whole thing smells of imperatives handed down by Risk Management to me.

    Actually, now that I think about it…it may have just been that one guy at the door. That was the second time I’d been there in a couple of weeks. The first time they didn’t make me change masks. Also, my dentist, my pcp, and my optometrist’s offices were all fine with my home-brew.

    I was just so ecstatic to be in an environment that explicitly enforced masking that I wasn’t disposed to argue. If it comes up again, I may just be a obnoxious and put the issued mask on over mine, just to see what the reaction is. (I’ll bet they haven’t seen that variant of non-compliance much!)

  108. In Austin (population 988,218), Texas, everyone is wearing a mask in the grocery stores every time I go shopping. UT-Austin is doing a hybrid semester and a majority of students have chosen online classes: 76% are completely online, 19% are doing combined online and in-person classes and only 5% are fully in person. All faculty, staff, students, and vendors (basically everyone) are required to wear masks in all campus buildings. Mask wearing is also required outside throughout the campus. UT is doing is doing extensive COVID-19 testing for individuals who are ill, contact tracing and proactive community testing. UT has a goal of proactively testing up to 5,000 community members each week through the Dell Medical School and Austin Public Health.

    I’m working mostly from home and go into campus to do production work a few hours a week. From what I can see all students are wearing their masks throughout campus. The halls and classrooms are pretty much empty on the floor my office resides, and occasionally notice a lone professor or TA teaching a zoom class. We don’t have to wear a mask in our own offices.

    I haven’t been outside of Austin since this past December when I visited family in Michigan and don’t plan on going anywhere the rest of this year. I have a doctor’s appointment next week and will be getting the annual flu shot.

  109. Montgomery County, MD, so blue county in blue state – pretty close to 100% in retail establishments, businesses and other public places. A fair percentage of folks just out walking or in parks where masks are only required if you can’t maintain social distancing. (Which I keep being tempted to remind certain posters on *our* Nextdoor – we have a few neighborhood “enforcers” who seem to think the mask mandate is “as soon as you step out your front door”.) I did spot two clear Trump supporters in the local grocery store who were both properly masked.

  110. Ultimately, the mask deniers are gunning for intimidation of sane people who experience rational fear of getting COVID-19 at the polls. It is obviously a deeply cynical and antidemocratic strategy perpetrated by Trump. My heart goes out to the people of Texas and other states forcing in-person balloting. Sane people will have to brave the maskless myrmidons who occasionally enjoy coughing in your face just for kicks. Sane people will have to suit up to an extreme.

  111. marigoldjacki … or any one with medical expertise…

    Q: could you identify a vendor I could trust when buying online? or a site with links which someone with expertise has verified as quality product?

    I have near-zero comfort just buying something so critical from an otherwise unknown site


  112. OK, I’m in rural southern WV, and shop in the big city of Charleston, WV. Kroger’s is pretty good to have everyone wearing masks. The Farmer’s Market is outdoors, and most vendors don’t wear a mask. To go inside at the market you have to wear a mask.

    I wear an industrial 3M respirator with N100 particulate filters, they also filter organic gas like formaldehyde, carbon disulfide, many other poisonous gases. I’ve noticed that the mask keeps me from smelling the gasoline at the fueling station, smelling the blue smoke the GM Suburban spitting blue smoke on my feet, etc. I originally got this device for woodworking and spraying various poisons around the farm, like herbicides now known to cause cancer…

    The filters on my mask are big lavender filter packs, and there are two, one on each side of the mask. While I do have facial hair, I’m pretty sure my respirator is working well, because I can’t smell gasoline, or unburnt gasoline, or stinky people around me while wearing my respirator.

    Just this afternoon I was wearing my obvious 3M respirator all over town, and folks who noticed it at the farmer’s market were telling each other “That’s a real mask, he’s gonna be OK!” and I’m talking about big farm workers and such. I told them, “It really works, I can’t smell terrible chemicals wearing it!” and they’re good with that!

    If you can’t bring yourself to wear a mask… why not just commit suicide right away, rather than attempting to infect your whole family and neighbors, etc??????

  113. @Kat:

    Agreed 100 %.

    And it’s not just sane people, but smart people as well. This country has an especially wide stupid streak, one we’ll need to overcome if we are ever to get our collective arms around this pandemic.

    I am more than okay with shaming and fining covidiots if it will keep people safe.

    The law restricts personal freedoms for the greater good, and what doesn’t get codified into law gets enforced through social pressure and public shaming.

    We’re not talking about the choice to drive electric cars or not, we’re talking about doing your part in getting things back to what passes for normal.

    We’re seven months into this pandemic and are heading into a dangerous period; the time for enumerating (for the umpteenth time) for pea-brained, stubborn, petulant children the whys of masking and the hows of infection has come and gone.

    We need to treat going unmasked in public like drunk-driving, public defecation and firing a gun in a crowd.

    I have to chuckle when American covidiots kvetch about police states and tyranny when citizens of the Philippines are under curfew and allegedly being “humiliated,” beaten and jailed for violating stay-at-home orders.

    They assault and pull guns on front line workers at the “insult” of being asked to think outside of their own comfort and needs as victims of “real” tyranny live in fear.

    “First its grocery stores and restaurants. Next they’ll be telling us to wear masks in our homes and doing house to house checks to make sure we do!”
    I hope these brain trusts slip on their slopes and crack their jaws.

    @ J R in WV
    “If you can’t bring yourself to wear a mask… why not just commit suicide right away, rather than attempting to infect your whole family and neighbors, etc.???”

    My sentiments, exactly.

    I’d even go so far as to suggest that anti-maskers who get infected be refused medical treatment, because frontline workers shouldn’t have to risk *their*, their families’ or neighbors’ lives caring for selfish idiots.

  114. I work at a Target in a first-ring suburb of the Twin Cities, and before the mask mandate maybe 50-70% of guests wore masks, though it could be way fewer. The only consistent demographic to eschew masks was people roughly 14-25. They never wore masks. I could usually count on one hand the number of people in that age range that wore masks in a given shift.

    Now that we have a mask mandate, they are the demo most likely to have their noses hanging out of their masks, but they’re hardly the only ones. I never thought the site of people’s noses would be so enraging, but here we are.

  115. So amazed to see blood red Douglas County CO cited above, since I am true Blue and have the 4×8 sign hanging to prove it. I guess Highlands Ranch is a purple blot. We mask pretty well here, and I always have a mask around my neck to pull up when I get within 10 feet of others while jogging or hiking. We hiked with a child’s classmate (and mom) on Sunday and wore the masks the whole hike, which was rough at 90F+. Usually we pull it up when within 10 feet of others. Gyms (I don’t go) require masking 100% as do all indoor retail places and government buildings. I see generally good compliance, though am still angry at the dick-nose woman at the dentist’s office this morning.

    Colorado rides on the fact that we have great breezes most of the time (to decrease viral load) and we are outside a lot of the time. My local high school just went remote for two weeks due to 4 cases (which exposed teachers- my kids were not exposed) and the dentist (who knew what HS the kids are in) followed up with a call today to see if the kids should come in for their appointments Friday: I think the fact that we are on average highly educated is helping.

  116. @Sarah Marie I’m autistic and follow a lot of the discussions and conversations throughout the disability community. And they have pretty uniformly and consistently been concerned and engaged in masks and other basic forms of protecting ourselves and others. I’m used to ignoring and cutting off the signals from my body, especially with sensory struggles. (That almost killed me in 2017 when I had a truly serious medical condition.) I’ve done that since childhood. When something is hard, I tend to push harder, often almost relentlessly. Early on, I would have said masks were no problem for me, but I’ve been working to pay more attention to my body. And when I was moving my youngest out of her college dorm in May, I realized it really was something of a sensory struggle for me. It was hard and draining and made other things more difficult than they normally would be. I’ve seen a lot of other autistic people share similar experiences. But we all wear masks anyway or don’t go where they are needed if for some reason we can’t at any given time because that is the right and human thing to do, not just to protect ourselves but to protect the people around us.

    My Dad has COPD and lung cancer. He doesn’t go anywhere except to doctor visits, but he absolutely wears masks when does. Anyone with diminished lung capacity, for whom masks could be a physical issue, is also at high risk from a virus that attacks pretty much every part of the body, but most especially the lungs. Those people are not going to be among the mask deniers waving their “disability” around.

    The “covidiot” term and similar language feel pretty uncomfortable to me. The deniers are not unintelligent in most cases. Rand Paul is a dentist or eye doctor or something. The denier heading the White House task force is a radiologist. The one in charge of the Abbott’s group here in Texas is also a radiologist. While they are manifestly unqualified for the role, it does require some level of ability to achieve those academic degrees. I think the reason I feel those terms in my body, even though I sometimes use them myself out of frustration and anger, lies in all the times they were yelled at me, or used in laughing mockery, or similar situations throughout my childhood.

    In fact, the intellectually disabled I’ve known in person and online tend to be very concerned about others and also concerned about understanding and following the rules. I’ve seen more outrage over people not wearing masks from both of those perspectives than resistance to it. I’m not a fan of even the ideas underlying “IQ” much less the measures and applications, but it’s not a lack of intelligence that leads people to behave in antisocial ways. Nor is it mental illness (generally speaking). Their actions and attitudes should be labeled for what they are.

  117. Here in Democratic New England, I can tell you that the age demographics of non-mask wearers are pretty much the same, regardless of race. Trump country may be more vocal about it, but it’s not much different in the northeast blue states. We’re a great country, but we also have a lot of ignorant and self-righteous people here.

  118. @Scott:

    I understand everything you are saying, but I hesitate to give a pass to those who endanger themselves and who flatly refuse to consider others during a pandemic.

    Do we need a more specific neologism to denote the genocidal segment of anti-maskers who believe in and are weaponizing the science? The answer is yes.

    Unfortunately, we’ve only this one.

    Are many of them psychopaths? Probably, but that probable psychopathy doesn’t negate the stupidity that inheres in recklessly exposing one’s self to a deadly and highly contagious virus.

    To continue, I am especially disgusted by those who outright lie about suffering from a medical condition in order to flout the rules with impunity.

    And again, as someone afflicted with more than one medical condition, someone who has spent more than a decade adapting to multiple “new normals” (no more long walks, no driving, no more enjoying movies like I used to, no more paying with cash, no more shopping independently, no more spontaneous trips to malls or amusement parks, no more secret ballots, no more presenting courses of study like sighted colleagues) in depressing and frightening ways, I have little patience for those who refuse to do the same, particularly when others’ lives are on the line.

    Certainly, I never meant to generalize; I’d never even suggest that entire segments of the disabled community are covidiots.

    I’ve gone back and reviewed the relevant posts and am unable to find either a tacit suggestion or explicit statement to that effect.

    Moreover, I’d never conflate stupidity with intellectual disability, as they are neither synonymous nor mutually inclusive. Such a position would be ableist in the extreme.

    I *did* mean to make the point that responsible disabled people must necessarily take into account physical limitations and affliction-specific risks when deciding how to navigate the world. Going bare-faced into a crowd during a pandemic should not come under the heading of “reasonable” accommodations.

    My second point was that hiding behind disabilities from which you do not suffer is an especially reprehensible form of covidiocy.

    One of my colleagues is on immune-suppressers, has been in her apartment since early March and relies almost exclusively on Instacart and Amazon for her food and supplies.

    She is an instructor and has had to fight tooth and nail with her university to be able to teach from home. She figured it out, because the possibility of contracting covid and infecting /murdering her students, the staff, her husband and her elderly mother was one she didn’t want to test.

    My elderly aunt suffers from COPD, congestive heart failure and high blood pressure. Going masked, especially in the oppressive California heat, was a struggle for her, so she took advantage of our local grocer’s delivery option and took steps to have her medications dropped off by the pharmacy.

    She figured it out, because going unmasked might have killed her and others, sick people and COPD are a deadly team and the lack of oxygen nearly sent her to the ground the first time she tried major grocery shopping.

    She’d never dream of endangering others because convenience or comfort.

    And we’re going to have to agree to disagree about the prominent covidiots; at best, they’re educated fools. Their degrees and job titles notwithstanding, the apparent fact that they don’t know how contagions work doesn’t speak all that well for their intellectual capacity or critical thinking skills.
    I wouldn’t want any of them treating me or any one I cared about.

    Rand Paul, in particular, looks the fool promoting anti-masking, as he caught covid fairly early in the pandemic.

    Might these officials be genocidal psychopaths who do, in fact, know how contagions work? Perhaps. But deploying covid and going unmasked are indicative of two distinct problems.

  119. I believe it was Indonesia where anti-maskers were required to dig graves for those who died of Covid. I liked that.

    In Canada, there are the same spottiness but less angst if I, as a consumer, demand that a mask be worn before I do business in a store. I am also the person who will email a store or restaurant saying I really wanted to shop there but saw your staff weren’t wearing masks so I didn’t feel safe. But I found the same goods in XXX store where they were all wearing masks. Maybe next year when it’s safe again?

    Gets the point across without involving politics: I, the consumer, have spoken and decided you don’t want my money badly enough. Enjoy bankruptcy, losers.

    As for the young non-maskers (as opposed to militant anti-maskers), I find that at my age (just turned 60) I just don’t care what happens to them.

  120. @Sarah Marie I was agreeing with and supporting your comments about the real disability community being very supportive and invested in masks where possible or other equivalent means to protect people from COVID-19. And agreeing that it was especially reprehensible for people to abuse the concept of ‘disability’ in their antisocial behavior.

    The connotation, underlying shared meaning, and directed intent of words like “idiot”, “moron”, and “stupid” are directly related to perceived intellectual ability. As someone who, when not being attacked for being “too smart”, was on the receiving end of those frequently because I did or said something outside the expected norms because I did not understand the rules, I know how they land. Those engaged in COVID denialism are, for the most part, of average or greater intelligence. A lot of them belong to an extremely large cult-like group and believe whatever their cult tells them to believe, but that’s a human susceptibility unrelated to intelligence. Very intelligent people can fall into that same trap and, in fact, often have. None of us are immune to the effect. In some it could be ignorance, but I think that’s relatively uncommon. Outside the willing cult members, I think it’s safer to attribute the actions of the cult’s leaders to malice and intent. I believe they know full well what they are doing.

    Psychopathy is most often pretty limiting and it’s relatively uncommon. I do not believe those leaders are mentally ill. I believe they consumed by greed and a lust for power. Nor do I believe their followers are mentally ill though many of them are being manipulated and gaslit. Before we can inflict violence on other human beings, we must first dehumanize them. Those in that group probably has varying degrees of empathy and concern for those they perceive as human. They may even be extremely caring and helpful if you meet them in a one on one situation with group markers removed. But they are umoved by the plight of those they perceive as less than human as a group.

  121. For @Howard (counting refrigerated trucks outside hospitals): I get my masks from an Etsy shop. Double-faced fabric with folds, t-shirt ties for around the head, plus a t-shirt circle for around the neck at the bottom, plus a bendable wire to mold to my nose. Haven’t gotten sick yet. I don’t know if I’m allowed to put the name of the shop in my post, so will not do it at this time.

  122. I currently live in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, arguably the swingiest of the swing states. My experience with mask-wearing is going to be equally anecdotal with John’s, since I’ve basically been nowhere but the grocery store in months. But here’s how it’s been in Wisconsin, specifically in a grocery store called Woodman’s in Waukesha:

    In the early days of the pandemic, mask-wearing was quite spotty, and at one point I ended up behind an older white guy in line who was going on to the cashier about how no, he wasn’t going to wear a mask, he’d survived X number of wars and all this pandemic nonsense was overblown, blah blah blah.

    Mask wearing increased some as the months went on, and the store put up those plastic screen separating cashiers from customers. Mask-wearing increased slightly, but there were still plenty of people in evidence without them.

    Then the second wave hit. And now, not only is there a “masks required” sign at the door of the store, but there’s a security guard inside the only entrance (the others have been closed off) to check on whether you’re wearing a mask when you come in. I haven’t actually seen said security guard confront anyone about not wearing a mask, but since this change was instituted, I haven’t seen anyone in the store not wearing one.

    So, again, take that for whatever it’s worth: at least one grocery store in the greater Milwaukee area finally got it right, and everyone shopping there seems to be actually complying.

  123. @Magda:

    Indonesia has the right of it; what better way to hammer home the profound and far-reaching consequences of going bare-faced?

    Penalties like that are yet one more reason why American cries of “ma freeeeeedom” and “police states” ring ridiculous.
    Also, I’ve been trying to find a public list of compliant/noncompliant businesses (someone somewhere has to have made one) but haven’t as of yet.

    When I find one, I’ll share it as widely as possible because, like badly behaving authors, recklessly behaving businesses deserved to be spotlit so that prospective customers can make informed decisions about whether or not to line their pockets.

    With regard to anti-maskers, I’m more concerned about the threat they pose than I am about their well-being.

    Here’s hoping nature and science put twin boot prints on their hollow little skulls.


    Your agreement with me wasn’t clear in your post; I apologize for misreading.

    And while I agree that many covid-denying anti-maskers are motivated by a need to eliminate “undesirable” populations, thump their chests, illustrate their “patriotism,” own the libs, demonstrate their faith in God and trust their immune systems, I feel comfortable doubting the intellectual capacity of the “I can’t catch covid because whiteness/ we can’t catch covid because we don’t drink Corona beer/covid kills like auto-accidents do” crowd.

    I assess them in much the same way I would a bare-headed motor cyclist, drunk driver or naked skier. Piloting, under the influence, an aircraft full of people is stupid, as is heading into a store with an improperly secured firearm and accidently shooting yourself or someone else.

    I’m not in psychology or psychiatry, but I’d argue that psychopathy isn’t so much a mental illness as it is a personality disorder, one probably more prevalent than its comfortable for people to admit.

    And while I will not discount your lived experience, I still hesitate to conflate stupidity with mental disability as, the implications notwithstanding, the two aren’t one in the same.

    Had I suggested anything of the sort, especially in the context of covidiocy, I’d be making an ablest statement while at the same time excusing stupid and ignorant behavior on the grounds that it can’t be helped.

    The bullies and assholes who labeled you were themselves ignorant fools with bigger mouths than brains.

    One thing we can agree on is that, no matter their intellectual capacity or mental state, anti-maskers’ and their elected thinkers’/decision makers’ actions are reckless and border on evil.

  124. Some suddenly bothered me about this, and I find that I’m angry enough not to just let it go. Back at the head of the thread, John identified this as a “political post,” with appropriate Mallet warning. He’s correct, of course, in that mask-wearing has become a political issue for many people–but Jesus Christ, it SHOULDN’T be. And I’m going to blame Donald Trump for the fact that it is.

    (I know, I know. We have to live in the world as it is, not as it should be. But DAMMIT.)

  125. @Sarah Marie The only thing I want to clarify is that I was not conflating “stupidity” with intellectual disability. Rather, I was pointing out that it *is* one of the terms directed in abusive ways towards those who are intellectually disabled as well as those of us who are not but who stood out in other ways and often acted in ways that did not meet expectations or made “stupid” (and often naive) social mistakes.

    It’s also a categorization problem. For the most part, people behaving in those ways do not lack at least average intelligence nor are their actions the result of mental illness.Their actions are reckless at best and are often what I would term evil. And that’s made even worse because they have the capacity to do better and to be better. They choose to be that sort of human being. (And yes, there are all sorts of caveats to the idea of “choice” and lots of things influence and limit what we can do in any given moment. Nevertheless they could do better than behavior they demonstrate and the choices they make.)

    And I apologize for being unclear. Things I write or say seem clearer in my head than they often appear to other people.

%d bloggers like this: