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Americans are split over states scrapping mask mandates: poll

Americans are divided over whether states should drop pandemic-induced mask mandates as more and more governors begin to end the requirements, according to a new poll released on Wednesday. ​

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As 32 states, including New York, have eliminated or allowed at least some mandates to expire, 43 percent say it’s too early to rescind them, a Politico-Morning Consult survey found.

By contrast, 20 percent of respondents say it’s the right time to drop requirements, 15 percent say mandates should have been rescinded already, and 14 percent say they shouldn’t have never been imposed in the first place — a total of 49 percent.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents identifying as Democrats (65 percent) fall into the too-early camp, compared to 20 percent of Republicans and 42 percent of independents. By contrast, 75 percent of Republicans fall into one of the other three categories, compared to 26 percent of Democrats and 47 percent of independents.

The poll also found that fewer than half of respondents (49 percent) believe local governments should be encouraging COVID-19 vaccinations and masking in indoor spaces — down 7 percentage points from September. 

32 states have eliminated or allowed at least some mask mandates to expire.
Michael Reynolds/EPA
People in Washington Square Park.
New York recently pulled the state’s mask mandate.
Jeenah Moon/REUTERS

​When asked who they trust more to handle the COVID-19 pandemic, 43 percent chose Democrats in Congress, 34 percent picked Congressional Republicans and 24 percent say ​they didn’t know or didn’t have an opinion. ​

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However, a plurality of voters (41 percent) say President Biden is doing a poor job in handling the outbreak, while just 22 percent say he’s doing a good job, ​17 percent say excellent and 16 percent say just fair.​

The poll also shows the public is split in their views of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House chief medical adviser who​ has become a polarizing figure during the battle against COVID-19.

Mask mandate poll.
43 percent of Americans say it’s too early to rescind mask requirements.

​Forty-seven percent ​say Fauci is doing an excellent or good job, while 45 percent say his performance has been just fair or poor. ​

Worries about the pandemic also are taking a backseat to concerns about the economy, with 54 percent of respondents saying it was more important for the government to address the latter than the former and 38 percent believing the reverse.

​​The poll also found that 66 percent of Americans ​think the country is on the wrong track and 53 percent disapprove of the job Biden is doing in the White House, with 39 percent saying they strongly disapprove.

Mask requirement sign.
20 percent of those polled say it’s the right time to drop requirements.
Christopher Sadowski
Anti-mask protest.
15 percent say mask mandates should have been rescinded already.
Carlo Allegri/REUTERS
Anti-mask sign.
14 percent say mask mandates shouldn’t have been imposed in the first place.
Maranie R. Staab/Getty Images

With the 2022 midterm elections looming, 43 percent of respondents said they would vote for a Republican House candidate if the election were held today, while 41 percent would go with the Democrat.

When questioned about which issues are at the top of their minds as they ponder their vote for a House or Senate candidate, 39 percent said the economy; 15 percent said security — including terrorism and border security; 12 percent said health care, 11 percent said Medicare and Social Security, and 6 percent said women’s issues — including birth control, abortion and equal pay.

The poll surveyed 2,005 registered voters between Feb. 12-13 and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 2 percentage points.

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