How Mask-Wearing Has Changed in America: A Visual Journey of Increasing Mask Use

How Mask-Wearing Has Changed in America: A Visual Journey of Increasing Mask Use

While in many parts of the country people are resuming more out-of-home activity, mobility is still lower than pre-pandemic numbers, but there has been an increase over the last few months based on data in the Institute for Health Metric and Evaluation’s (IHME) August 21 update.

Over the past few months, data have shown changing habits across the country in regard to mask usage. Many states and government agencies have been encouraging mask-wearing as a way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Currently, 36 states (including D.C. and Puerto Rico) have some form of mask mandate.

IHME stated in their recent update from August 21 that if mask-wearing in public increases to 95%, more than 69,000 lives could be saved. While much is still unknown about this virus, it seems that more Americans are heeding warnings to wear masks as cases continue to grow across the country.

A Visual Timeline of Mask Use in America

By early April the majority of states had implemented a stay-at-home order.

The week of April 20, states like Florida, Georgia and South Carolina had begun to loosen statewide restrictions or announced intentions to do so.

Demonstrators gathered across the U.S. to protest the extension of stay-at-home orders while other states’ stay-at-home orders ended. On April 27, global cases topped 3 million, and cases in the U.S. cases topped 1 million with over 50,000 dying from the disease.

On May 15, ahead of Memorial Day, Governor Cuomo of New York announced that some beaches in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware would reopen with special measures. Other states continued to announce further reopening.

In this blog post, Are Americans Wearing Face Masks?, our team assessed the levels of mask usage across the U.S. as the death toll rose to over 100,000 and states continued with reopening measures.

On June 10, confirmed cases in the U.S. surpassed 2 million and some states, such as Texas, began experiencing spikes in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Due to COVID cases rising in nearly half of states, rollbacks on lockdowns began to occur.

States like California, Florida and Texas closed down bars as COVID cases surge in areas of their states. On June 28, the global death toll exceeds 500,000 with more than 10 million confirmed cases globally.

By July 7, the number of COVID cases in the U.S. was over 3 million. As people are moving more freely, data also show an increase in mask usage in many states.

In Premise’s blog, More Americans Embrace Mask Use, Distancing as U.S. Cases Continue Rising the team digs into some of the Premise data used by the IHME to evaluate mask usage in the U.S.

By the end of July, the U.S. has surpassed 150,000 fatalities. Schools across the country began preparing for reopening and many of those reopening plans include mandates on mask usage.

Based on current mandate implementation data from IHME, California and Georgia are the only states with a current stay-at-home mandate of some kind in effect.

It is clear through these illustrations from IHME, using data from Premise, that there has been a change in the habits of many Americans over the last few months in regard to wearing masks when going out in public. Data continues to suggest that mask usage is a critical facet of preventing the spread of COVID-19 and preventing deaths.

Premise will continue to collect data on these (and other) COVID-related themes in the coming weeks. To learn more about Premise’s work around COVID-19 visit


The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation is an independent population health research center at UW Medicine, part of the University of Washington, that provides rigorous and comparable measurement of the world’s most important health problems and evaluates the strategies used to address them. IHME makes this information freely available so that policymakers have the evidence they need to make informed decisions about how to allocate resources to best improve population health.