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Most Utahns wear masks, but don't practice social distancing

Posted at 4:52 PM, Dec 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-02 23:46:59-05

SALT LAKE CITY — The Covid States Project showed in a November report that Utah and neighboring states to the north are not following social distance guidance at the same levels as other states.

In a series of survey questions forming a social distancing index, Utah was 46th, with Idaho at No. 49 and Wyoming at 51st in the fall months. The survey included the District of Columbia.

Nationwide, people have shown "distancing fatigue" as adherence to guidelines dropped from spring through summer, and then fall.

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Dr. David Lazer of Northeastern University authored the study and says he spotted something strange in Utah's survey results.

Idaho and Wyoming were also at the bottom of the pack on mask wearing (#47 and #51 respectively), but Utah ranked 26th.

Lazer's data doesn't explain the difference, but it suggests possibilities.

Political ideology correlated strongly with the behaviors studied in the report.

"Democrats were doing more social distancing than Republicans and wearing masks more than Republicans," Lazer said.

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That doesn't explain the difference between three conservative states on mask wearing, but another correlation might be a better clue.

Young adults are doing a lousy job social distancing, but they are wearing masks about as much as all other age groups, and Utah is the youngest state in the country.

In any case, Lazer hopes residents of all three states see the data and how it relates to a COVID-19 crisis that continues to worsen in the region.

"Social distancing and mask wearing save lives," Lazer said.