• The New York Times has prepared a detailed coronavirus-themed US map, showing what parts of the country are home to face mask usage, and what parts aren’t.
  • It makes clear that there are still wide swaths of the country that are failing at or declining outright to wear face masks to protect themselves against the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The latest data about the virus shows that there have now been more than 3.6 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the US.

By now, everybody should know that one of the few tools we have to keep ourselves protected from catching (or, alternately, transmitting) the coronavirus is the wearing of a face mask — along with staying socially distanced from people outside your household. Indeed, as we noted just a few days ago, it seems that face masks prevented what could have been a big coronavirus outbreak in Missouri, where a few months ago two hairstylists saw some 140 clients without realizing the two women were infected with coronavirus. All of the clients got tested, and none of them were found to have been infected with the COVID-19 virus.

Experts believe it’s because that salon had a policy mandating that everyone, employees and customers alike, wear masks. The CDC even wrote a paper about this incident, titled “Absence of Apparent Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from Two Stylists After Exposure at a Hair Salon with a Universal Face Covering Policy.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg live-streamed a conversation between himself and White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci along these lines on Thursday, a conversation that at various points touched on the importance of face masks. “I just think … it’s really disappointing that we still don’t have adequate testing, that the credibility of top scientists like yourself and the CDC are being undermined and until recently that parts of the administration were calling into question whether people should even follow basic best practices like wearing masks,” Zuckerberg said at one point during the conversation.

Having said all that, vast differences nevertheless can be found across the US in terms of places where you’re most likely to see everyone or almost everyone in public wearing a mask, compared to places nearby where almost no one is.

To quantify that behavior, The New York Times, in partnership with the data and survey firm Dynata, conducted a survey between July 2 and July 14 that resulted in more than a quarter of a million responses. The idea was to see who acknowledges wearing face masks, who’s not, and where all that is specifically taking place.

Check out the map below to see the regional patterns across the US. In the darker areas, there’s more mask-wearing. Unfortunately, a huge portion of the country is only lightly shaded below, attesting to how much the US is failing at one of the most basic things we can do to put this terrible pandemic behind us:

Things are going to get a lot worse, needless to say, if the appearance of this map doesn’t change soon. Several states, for example, are already in dire enough straits that they might have to return to lockdown. Meanwhile, the latest data from Johns Hopkins University shows that there have been more than 3.6 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus reported thus far in the US, along with almost 139,000 deaths.

Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.