Face masks have become commonplace across the USA because of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) epidemic. Although evidence suggests that masks help to curb the spread of the disease, there is little empirical research at the population level. We investigate the association between self-reported mask-wearing, physical distancing, and SARS-CoV-2 transmission in the USA, along with the effect of statewide mandates on mask uptake.


Serial cross-sectional surveys were administered via a web platform to randomly surveyed US individuals aged 13 years and older, to query self-reports of face mask-wearing. Survey responses were combined with instantaneous reproductive number (Rt) estimates from two publicly available sources, the outcome of interest. Measures of physical distancing, community demographics, and other potential sources of confounding (from publicly available sources) were also assessed. We fitted multivariate logistic regression models to estimate the association between mask-wearing and community transmission control (Rt<1). Additionally, mask-wearing in 12 states was evaluated 2 weeks before and after statewide mandates.


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