A new study shows just under three-quarters of attendees at five games of the 2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship Tournament wore masks correctly, despite a requirement for everyone to wear one. Additionally, the study shows varied usage of masks among different areas of the venue.
The study, “Mask-wearing behavior at the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament,” was conducted by researchers from Regenstrief Institute in Indianapolis, the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI and Resolve to Save Lives, a New York-based initiative of global public health organization Vital Strategies.
The results of the study were published in the August 16 issue of Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers say the results highlight challenges in encouraging public health behaviors that reduce disease transmission.
“At a sporting event where the public health agencies and the venue were doing everything they could to encourage spectators to wear masks, we found that less than three out of every four spectators were correctly wearing masks, highlighting the challenge of getting the public to follow mask requirements,” said Regenstrief Institute Research Scientist and Fairbanks School of Public Health Professor of Health Policy and Management Dr. Joshua Vest, corresponding author of the JAMA study. “With vaccination rates still low and COVID transmission ongoing, the more people that are correctly and consistently masked at large events the better.”
Observations were recorded via MaskCount, a web-based application developed by Regenstrief Institute. Over the course of five games in Indianapolis, the researchers observed more than 20,000 spectators, of which 74% were correctly masked.
“This study is one of the first to provide evidence on masking behavior at large indoor events — evidence that individuals, public health officials and policy makers need as we all work to stay safe and reduce disease spread, while also trying to enjoy events like these that have the potential to become super-spreader events,” said Regenstrief Institute President and CEO Dr. Peter Embí, senior author of the JAMA study.
The study was funded by Resolve to Save Lives. You can view the full study by clicking here.