Trump Won’t Back a National Mask Mandate. Three-Quarters of Americans Want One.

An overwhelming number of Americans believe that there should be a national mandate requiring masks or facial coverings to be worn when people are out in public to stop the spread of coronavirus in the U.S.

According to an Associated Press/NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll published on Thursday, 75 percent of Americans think that wearing masks should be required outside of homes. Only 13 percent say they oppose such a requirement.

There is strong support for such a mandate across all political stripes, including among a majority of Republicans, with 58 percent of GOP-leaning participants in the poll saying they, too, support the idea of requiring masks or facial coverings. Support for a mandate is strongest among Democrats, with 89 percent backing it.

A majority of Americans are also supportive of stay-at-home orders, which many governors used this past spring to control the spread of the disease. Just 29 percent of respondents in the poll opposed such orders, with 53 percent saying they were supportive of them.

Support for these measures may be high due to widespread fear of the virus. The poll found that a plurality, 49 percent, of Americans are “extremely” or “very” worried about someone in their household getting sick from COVID-19. Another 31 percent said they are “somewhat” worried, while just 19 percent said they weren’t worried too much or at all about the disease.

On Thursday, the United States surpassed 4 million cumulative cases of coronavirus since the pandemic reached the nation’s shores, according to a count by NBC News. Within a 24-hour time period that ended at 11 a.m. Eastern Time that same day, there were 81,000 new cases of coronavirus counted. More than 144,300 Americans have died from the disease since the beginning of March.

The United States has the highest number of recorded cases of coronavirus, as well as the highest number of deaths from COVID-19, out of any country in the world.

For most of the crisis, President Donald Trump has been outspoken against personally wearing a mask, and at times has even suggested that others who wore them were doing so out of spite toward him. Respondents in the AP/NORC poll have given the president mostly poor reviews, with 68 percent saying they disapprove of his handling of COVID-19, with only 32 percent voicing approval.

This past week, however, Trump has shifted his position, even tweeting out that wearing a mask was a positive act. “Many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask when you can’t socially distance,” Trump said in a tweet.

Yet during an interview on Sunday with Fox News’s Chris Wallace, Trump stopped short of saying he would order a mandate for wearing masks or facial coverings, explaining that he wants “people to have a certain freedom” and would not use his presidential powers to make it a legal requirement. He also appeared to balk at experts’ claims that wearing a mask would help slow the spread of the disease.

“I don’t agree with the statement that if everybody wears a mask, everything disappears,” Trump said in the interview.