As the United States entered its third year of the pandemic, fewer Americans are reporting that they have been wearing masks in recent months, according to a poll released on Tuesday by The Associated Press and NORC.
About 44 percent of Americans reported this month that they usually wore a mask outside their home, down from about two-thirds during the peak of the Omicron wave in January, according to the poll, which surveyed 1,082 U.S. adults from March 17 to March 21.
Only about a third of Americans said this month that they still avoided others as much as possible, compared with over half of them just two months earlier. About 40 percent said in March that they continued to avoid nonessential travel, down from 60 percent in January.
People 60 and older were most likely to report that they took precautions more than two years into the pandemic, according to the poll.
Andrew Noymer, a public health professor at the University of California, Irvine, said the poll results reflected that the country was at a lull in the pandemic, with the U.S. caseloads at their lowest point since the winter Omicron surge.
“Partly it’s fatigue,” he said, “and partly it’s that they’re being authorized to take fewer precautions by the C.D.C.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested in February that most Americans could stop wearing masks.
Dr. Noymer added that the poll indicated that, now and in the years to come, “Americans are less interested in masking everywhere they go outside the home.”
Going forward, the Covid vaccines will be one of the best ways to control the pandemic and lower caseloads, said Dr. Arnold S. Monto, a professor of epidemiology and global public health at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.