News

Three out of 5 survey respondents continue to mask up in public settings

Local poll captures people's top concerns after two years of the pandemic

Pedestrians walk down Bryant Street at its intersection with University Avenue in Palo Alto on March 14, 2022. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Isolating. Frustrating. Disrupting.

These are some of the common words local readers used to describe their COVID-19 pandemic experience, according to an informal, nine-question survey that this news organization conducted earlier this month. To examine how the highly contagious disease upended our everyday routines, the survey asked people about their outlook on their lives, attitudes on how the health crisis has been handled and opinions on what the future holds.

Over the course of nine days, 352 people from the Peninsula and east bay responded. The poll results indicated that many people expect to continue taking precautions against COVID-19 and have faced numerous obstacles since March 2020.

When asked to capture their pandemic experience in three words, some people went with phrases, such as "Life's empty space," "real-life movie" and "Groundhog Day." While most answers touched on challenges, others shared an optimistic view through answers like "transformative," "eye-opening" and "gratitude-inducing."

Physical activity proved to be a main outlet from the stresses of the pandemic. Many found a release through running, hiking and exercise, among other means of movement. Respondents also found enrichment through watching television, reading, cooking, puzzles and friends.

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In recent weeks, the region has seen indoor mask mandates end in most public places. Despite the lifted restriction, more than 3 out of 5 respondents said they would either likely or very likely continue to wear a face covering.

About the same percent ranked their personal risk of contracting COVID-19 to be very low at this point in the pandemic, which could be attributed to various factors, such as protection through vaccines and boosters.

When it came to how well public health leaders handled the crisis, slightly more than 3 out of 5 respondents said that they were in full or nearly full agreement with health orders. But almost 1 in 5 said they were in full or nearly full disagreement during the pandemic.

The top three answers to the question "Which of the following has been the most difficult to navigate during the pandemic?" were "Judging whether it's safe to see relatives, friends, co-workers, etc. in person," (33.5%) followed by "The overall mental toll" (26.4%) and "Constantly shifting public health mandates" (21%).

Despite the health threat and risks of travel, survey takers showed a willingness to travel far from home in the past two years: 13.9% went outside of the country, while 47.4% went to other parts of the state. Just 5.6% stayed completely within their county's limits.

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As we come out of the pandemic, surveyed readers also showed cautious confidence that we'll mostly return to normalcy a year from now. On a scale from 1-10, with 10 being a full return to normalcy, about 42% of respondents selected 8 or higher.

The survey was conducted online from March 4 to 13. It was open to readers of The Almanac, DanvilleSanRamon.com, Mountain View Voice, Livermore Vine, Palo Alto Weekly, Pleasanton Weekly and Redwood City Pulse.

The poll did not use random sampling. Answers were provided anonymously. No demographic data was collected.

---

Palo Alto Online is marking two years of the COVID-19 pandemic this week. If you missed any parts of our series, view the links below.

As traffic returns to Bay Area highways, congestion is still less than before the pandemic

Silicon Valley is still experiencing shorter drive times, but how long will it last?

Students and teachers are back in the classroom, but the pandemic's effects remain

Palo Alto Unified leaders are working to aid struggling students while also looking to a more hopeful future.

For these small businesses, COVID brought unexpected boons. Will they last?

Some business owners saw their best year yet as consumers shifted their priorities.

Tech economy, rather than virus, remains biggest uncertainty in real estate market

As talent moves outside of the daily commute radius, will companies follow in a post-pandemic era?

COVID-19: What it means to move from pandemic to endemic

A Stanford epidemiologist says that COVID-19, in some form, is likely to persist.

COVID brings uneven changes to Silicon Valley workplaces

As the "hybrid" model takes over tech, essential workers cope with pandemic adjustments.

School nurses hope worst of the pandemic is behind them

COVID-19 brought long hours, "ever-changing rules" and a new appreciation for the work that nurses do.

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Jamey Padojino
 
Jamey V. Padojino, a Bay Area native, joined the Palo Alto Weekly/PaloAltoOnline.com in 2017. She edits online stories, compiles the Express newsletter and curates the Weekly's social media accounts. Read more >>

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly, Facebook and on Instagram @paloaltoonline for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

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Three out of 5 survey respondents continue to mask up in public settings

Local poll captures people's top concerns after two years of the pandemic

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, Mar 18, 2022, 6:59 am
Updated: Sun, Mar 20, 2022, 8:18 pm

Isolating. Frustrating. Disrupting.

These are some of the common words local readers used to describe their COVID-19 pandemic experience, according to an informal, nine-question survey that this news organization conducted earlier this month. To examine how the highly contagious disease upended our everyday routines, the survey asked people about their outlook on their lives, attitudes on how the health crisis has been handled and opinions on what the future holds.

Over the course of nine days, 352 people from the Peninsula and east bay responded. The poll results indicated that many people expect to continue taking precautions against COVID-19 and have faced numerous obstacles since March 2020.

When asked to capture their pandemic experience in three words, some people went with phrases, such as "Life's empty space," "real-life movie" and "Groundhog Day." While most answers touched on challenges, others shared an optimistic view through answers like "transformative," "eye-opening" and "gratitude-inducing."

Physical activity proved to be a main outlet from the stresses of the pandemic. Many found a release through running, hiking and exercise, among other means of movement. Respondents also found enrichment through watching television, reading, cooking, puzzles and friends.

In recent weeks, the region has seen indoor mask mandates end in most public places. Despite the lifted restriction, more than 3 out of 5 respondents said they would either likely or very likely continue to wear a face covering.

About the same percent ranked their personal risk of contracting COVID-19 to be very low at this point in the pandemic, which could be attributed to various factors, such as protection through vaccines and boosters.

When it came to how well public health leaders handled the crisis, slightly more than 3 out of 5 respondents said that they were in full or nearly full agreement with health orders. But almost 1 in 5 said they were in full or nearly full disagreement during the pandemic.

The top three answers to the question "Which of the following has been the most difficult to navigate during the pandemic?" were "Judging whether it's safe to see relatives, friends, co-workers, etc. in person," (33.5%) followed by "The overall mental toll" (26.4%) and "Constantly shifting public health mandates" (21%).

Despite the health threat and risks of travel, survey takers showed a willingness to travel far from home in the past two years: 13.9% went outside of the country, while 47.4% went to other parts of the state. Just 5.6% stayed completely within their county's limits.

As we come out of the pandemic, surveyed readers also showed cautious confidence that we'll mostly return to normalcy a year from now. On a scale from 1-10, with 10 being a full return to normalcy, about 42% of respondents selected 8 or higher.

The survey was conducted online from March 4 to 13. It was open to readers of The Almanac, DanvilleSanRamon.com, Mountain View Voice, Livermore Vine, Palo Alto Weekly, Pleasanton Weekly and Redwood City Pulse.

The poll did not use random sampling. Answers were provided anonymously. No demographic data was collected.

---

Palo Alto Online is marking two years of the COVID-19 pandemic this week. If you missed any parts of our series, view the links below.

As traffic returns to Bay Area highways, congestion is still less than before the pandemic

Silicon Valley is still experiencing shorter drive times, but how long will it last?

Students and teachers are back in the classroom, but the pandemic's effects remain

Palo Alto Unified leaders are working to aid struggling students while also looking to a more hopeful future.

For these small businesses, COVID brought unexpected boons. Will they last?

Some business owners saw their best year yet as consumers shifted their priorities.

Tech economy, rather than virus, remains biggest uncertainty in real estate market

As talent moves outside of the daily commute radius, will companies follow in a post-pandemic era?

COVID-19: What it means to move from pandemic to endemic

A Stanford epidemiologist says that COVID-19, in some form, is likely to persist.

COVID brings uneven changes to Silicon Valley workplaces

As the "hybrid" model takes over tech, essential workers cope with pandemic adjustments.

School nurses hope worst of the pandemic is behind them

COVID-19 brought long hours, "ever-changing rules" and a new appreciation for the work that nurses do.

Comments

Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 18, 2022 at 7:49 am
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Mar 18, 2022 at 7:49 am

To those who are still taking the precautions of wearing masks everywhere and fear their lives will still be cautious the question should be asked as to what will make them feel free enough to return to a more normal comfort level.

Some people are more cautious by nature while others are more likely to weigh risk/caution balance at a different level.

So is it time, a statement from high up that pandemic is over, or what criteria will make the ultra cautious feel ready to resume a return to life?


Jennifer
Registered user
another community
on Mar 18, 2022 at 6:19 pm
Jennifer, another community
Registered user
on Mar 18, 2022 at 6:19 pm

As long as I can breathe normally by not having to wear a mask, I'm not too concerned about the mask wearing of others. I was surprised on the day that masks were lifted that a gentleman asked "where's your mask?" while grocery shopping. I told him the mask mandate was lifted. [Portion removed.]


Roger Dodger
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Mar 19, 2022 at 12:40 pm
Roger Dodger, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Mar 19, 2022 at 12:40 pm

@Jennifer: I know, right? SO much pesky trouble, outrageous inconvenience and oppressive government over-reach asking people to put a piece of cloth on their face (clearly a deeply traumatic wound to freedom).

And all this for a virus that only killed over a million people in this country, and is still only killing over 1000 people per day now in the US. And a mere 6 million deaths globally. Why can't people grow a spine? Sheesh.


Jennifer
Registered user
another community
on Mar 19, 2022 at 4:43 pm
Jennifer, another community
Registered user
on Mar 19, 2022 at 4:43 pm
John
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 19, 2022 at 7:30 pm
John, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Mar 19, 2022 at 7:30 pm
James Erhardt
Registered user
another community
on Mar 20, 2022 at 9:46 am
James Erhardt, another community
Registered user
on Mar 20, 2022 at 9:46 am

Despite being fully vaccinated, I still wear a facemask when shopping indoors and while picking-up a quick take-out order at a restaurant.

Though the Omicron variant has subsided somewhat, it is still out there and I am playing it safe because the only ones who are supposed to be going maskless in public indoor settings are the fully vaccinated...not anti-mask/anti-vax deniers.

Unfortunately, I suspect that by wearing a facemask indoors some folks might wrongfully assume that I am not vaccinated and a member of the anti-science tribe of ignoramuses.


Misha Abramowitz
Registered user
another community
on Mar 20, 2022 at 11:11 am
Misha Abramowitz, another community
Registered user
on Mar 20, 2022 at 11:11 am

It is oftentimes best to err on the side of precaution and with the coronavirus still active, why not get fully vaccinated and wear a face mask in public indoor settings not only to protect yourself but to others as well?

Stubbornness is a sign of ignorance.


Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 20, 2022 at 1:04 pm
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Mar 20, 2022 at 1:04 pm

Interesting to see there are portions deleted. Interesting also to see that there are similarly portions not deleted that are left. It seems that there is some selective moderation taking place rather than debate and varying opinions.


Jennifer
Registered user
another community
on Mar 20, 2022 at 4:58 pm
Jennifer, another community
Registered user
on Mar 20, 2022 at 4:58 pm

If you're fully vaccinated, the CDC recommends a mask indoors in areas of low vaccination rates. Santa Clara County is one of the highest vaccinated counties in California.

If I see someone in a mask at this stage of the pandemic, I don't assume they're unvaccinated. I have a different assumption. For those who want to continue to wear a mask to protect themselves, I thought we were told that masks protect others more than anything.

I think it depends on your immunity more than vaccination status, mask wearing, social distancing, etc. [Portion removed.]

One day this will be behind us. We're getting there...


Neal
Registered user
Community Center
on Mar 21, 2022 at 10:50 am
Neal, Community Center
Registered user
on Mar 21, 2022 at 10:50 am

I have never found wearing a mask an inconvenience. I am a retired healthcare professional who wore a mask and gloves all day every day for decades. Wearing a mask when I go out in public is no big deal. I feel sorry for those who find it so emotionally challenging. Even if masks are only slightly effective I find a little protection better than no protection.


Member
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Mar 21, 2022 at 11:07 am
Member, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Mar 21, 2022 at 11:07 am

I find the judging of others to be the most tiring in all of this ("He's not wearing a mask, he must be an Trump supported with no concern for others" or "She's wearing a mask in her car, she must be a self-centered liberal" or variations thereof). As long as you are in compliance with applicable mandates, I say leave the judgment alone. Your assumptions will probably be wrong anyway.


Aletheia
Registered user
Greenmeadow
on Mar 21, 2022 at 11:22 am
Aletheia, Greenmeadow
Registered user
on Mar 21, 2022 at 11:22 am

[Portion removed.] The virus is now endemic. There are only 2 camps: those of us who already contracted it and those of us that will contract it - masks or not. If you're over 65 with multiple comorbidities you're probably toast. If not, you'll be fine especially if you're vaccinated.


ALB
Registered user
College Terrace
on Mar 21, 2022 at 11:23 am
ALB, College Terrace
Registered user
on Mar 21, 2022 at 11:23 am

Will continue to wear a mask as this virus is not over. Being of a certain age it is prudent for me to do so. If others choose not to sport a mask that is their decision. Let’s keep track of what is happening in the UK and follow the guidance of Fauci.


CalAveLocal
Registered user
Evergreen Park
on Mar 21, 2022 at 11:52 am
CalAveLocal, Evergreen Park
Registered user
on Mar 21, 2022 at 11:52 am

Masks have been proven to provide protection against Covid19, depending on the mask to a varying degree. While cloth masks help protect others; KN95 or N95 masks do protect the wearer from it. I hope PAO will remove or mark disinformation comments above.

I also have one comment and one question to these who found wearing masks difficult:
1. Comment - if you found it difficult to breath while wearing a mask, you might want to check with your health professional because that would indicate you have some sort of preexisting condition that would likely contribute to more complications if you contract covid. Just saying, you might actually be the one benefiting from wearing a mask greatly.

[Portion removed.]

P.S. None of this, obviously, applies to people who rely on lip reading or have any other conditions that do make masks difficult for them to navigate life.


Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 21, 2022 at 1:18 pm
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Mar 21, 2022 at 1:18 pm

The good thing is now we all have the freedom to choose. I have no objection to what others do, they are free to make their own decisions.

That is how it should be.


Gale Johnson
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 21, 2022 at 2:51 pm
Gale Johnson, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Mar 21, 2022 at 2:51 pm

I always carry a mask with me when I'm out walking, just in case I get challenged by a big 6' 8" 260 lb guy who thinks I should be wearing a mask. I'm not stupid! I haven't worn it for a long time. I take walks to my local park, Ramos, 3 or 4 times a week. I see very few unmasked walkers, joggers, bicyclists, and skateboarders. That's fine, and I'm happy to see them out and about, being active and trying to do their best to put the pandemic behind us, but I don't like being treated as a pariah for not wearing a mask. Sometimes I see masked people avoiding me by making sure they don't get closer than 15 feet away from me, even if it means going out in the middle of the street to do it. My question? What are the relative odds of getting COVID from my unmasked protection, and that from getting hit and killed by a car while walking out in the street, to avoid me? I'll bet I could hug and kiss all those super cautious folks and they would never get COVID. "Just Saying!".


Chris G Zaharias
Registered user
another community
on Mar 21, 2022 at 7:06 pm
Chris G Zaharias, another community
Registered user
on Mar 21, 2022 at 7:06 pm
AdjunctProfessorville
Registered user
Professorville
on Mar 22, 2022 at 10:24 pm
AdjunctProfessorville, Professorville
Registered user
on Mar 22, 2022 at 10:24 pm

I do find it interesting that according to the poll:

Most people don’t think there’s any risk at all of getting it right now

Most are still going to wear a mask in public

Almost nobody has put the virus itself as the biggest challenge.

Strikes me as incongruous at a high level.

Either way, if people want to wear a mask, no judgement from me. If people don’t, no judgement from me.


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