UCF researchers hope to share COVID-19 study results with health officials

Florida

ORLANDO, Fla. (WESH) – University of Central Florida researchers hope a recent study will be essential to public health officials and policymakers battling COVID-19.

The data includes behavior, public perception and where the messaging should be focused during the pandemic.

Top health officials testifying on Capitol Hill say the majority of the population remains susceptible to COVID-19.

“Preliminary reports appear to show most Americans have not been infected with the virus and are still vulnerable to the infection, serious illness and death. A majority of our nation, more than 90% of the population, remains susceptible,” CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield said.

Meanwhile, a new national science foundation-funded survey of six states found that during the past two months, more people have been wearing masks.

The first survey, done by UCF, was completed in late May and early June.

“That showed that about 66% of people were always wearing their masks in indoor spaces, which you know, is concerning, but in the second wave, thankfully we found that is up to 79% now,” Lindsay Neuberger said.

Neuberger is an associate professor at the University of Central Florida’s Nicholson School of Communication and Media.

She says while face-covering use is up, vaccine uncertainty is on the rise, and during the second survey in August, she also found people are overestimating their risk of getting seriously sick or dying from COVID-19.

One more finding about facial coverings:

“Men wear masks less frequently than women, people who are less educated tend to wear masks less than people who are more educated. People who are conservative tend to wear masks less than those who are liberal,” Neuberger said.

UCF is getting the survey results into the hands of policy makers to increase public health. It’s already happened in Colorado.

“And they’ve shared it with their state governor, who has used it to inform how their mask policies evolve across the state,” Neuberger said.

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