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Poll: Nearly three-quarters of Minnesotans wear a mask when leaving home

Statewide, restaurant workers are required when facing customers, and customers at salons and other personal service businesses must wear them too.

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesotans planning on getting a hair cut or salon service in June will be required to wear a face mask. And nearly three-quarters of Minnesota’s voters already sometimes wear a mask when they leave the house, a new KARE 11/MPR News/Star Tribune poll found.

In a telephone poll of 800 registered voters in Minnesota, 74% said they’ve worn a mask or covering when they’ve left their home in the past week. Twenty-six percent said they have not.

The Minnesota Poll found women were even more likely than men to wear masks, 80% compared to 68%.

There are questions concerning how much protection against the coronavirus a face mask offers, with one recent study finding success and another suggesting masks made little difference.

The Department of Microbiology at the University of Hong Kong, after performing experiments on hamsters, claim surgical masks can cut the coronavirus’ transmission rate by as much as 75%.

But researchers in South Korea performed an experiment with infected people coughing into a petri dish with disappointing results.

“Neither surgical nor cotton masks effectively filtered SARS–CoV-2 during coughs by infected patients,” the researchers wrote in the study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

N95 respirators offer the most protection, filtering 95 percent of small particles that could include the coronavirus. However, there is a critical shortage worldwide of N95 masks, so government and health professionals are asking the public to save N95s for front-line healthcare workers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevents advises saving N95 and surgical masks for medical workers. Despite mixed evidence, the CDC recommends people wear “simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.”

The issue of wearing masks has become somewhat of a political issue. In the Minnesota Poll, 92% of Democrats said they wore one in the last week, compared to 53% of Republicans and 75% of Independents.

Vice President Mike Pence’s recent visit to the Mayo Clinic was overshadowed by the fact he did not wear a mask inside despite the hospital’s policy.

RELATED: Pence comes under fire for going maskless at Mayo Clinic

Gov. Tim Walz has repeatedly said part of the reason to wear a mask is to show solidarity, “A psychological piece behind it to show that we’re all in this together.”

Masks were worn fairly consistently among various ages of respondents in the Minnesota Poll. There were slight differences between metro and rural residents. Hennepin and Ramsey County residents wore masks the most (80%), followed by metro suburban residents (74%), northern Minnesota residents (72%) and southern Minnesota residents (68%.)

Interviews with Minnesota Poll respondents found those with pre-existing health conditions to be supportive of masking.

"For people like me its very dangerous," said Michelle from St. Paul, who said she suffers from diabetes and currently has pneumonia. "To me, you have to think of other people when wearing a mask and not just yourself.

But Troy Marschel from Hanover, despite supporting many of Minnesota's coronavirus restrictions, does not wear a mask and does not believe they do much good, primarily because of how so many people wear them incorrectly.

The Minnesota Poll has a margin for error of ± 3.5 percentage points.

RELATED: What's open (and what's not) under the Stay Safe MN order

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