Market Overview

PEMCO Poll: Northwest Residents Predict Mask Use Well Into 2021, Even After a Vaccine


Many Northwest residents plan to wear masks well into 2021, even after a potential vaccine becomes available, according to new data from PEMCO Insurance. In a recent poll, the mutual insurance provider found that many Seattle- and Portland-area residents anticipate wearing masks, washing their hands and sanitizing surfaces in their homes just as often, if not more habitually, in one year's time – even if the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has subsided.

The latest PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll confirmed that the vast majority of respondents report wearing a mask more today than they did before the pandemic began. What's interesting is that, when looking ahead to the end of the pandemic when a viable vaccine is out, about one-quarter (27%) said they'll wear a mask just as often as they do today, and nearly one-third (30%) said they'll actually wear a mask more frequently than they do now.

In both Seattle and Portland, younger adults – those under the age of 55 – were likely to predict that they'll wear a mask more often in a year, compared to those over 55 (37% vs 22%).

"Research shows that wearing a mask in public spaces continues to be one of the most effective ways to significantly reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases. As we continue to navigate this pandemic together, and plan for what lies beyond it, it's encouraging to see that so many people are preparing to help protect their fellow Northwesterners by wearing masks for the foreseeable future," said PEMCO Insurance Spokesperson Derek Wing. "Of course, we can only speculate why mask use may extend past the pandemic itself, but it's not surprising to think that a habit is forming and that mask use will be more common as it becomes associated with caring about, and protecting, others."

While many residents plan to keep up with other preventive measures at about the same rate as today, about one-third of respondents (36%) say they plan to increase handwashing, and another quarter (28%) plan to sanitize surfaces in their homes more frequently, even after a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available. Again, the poll found that younger residents were twice as likely to say they'll sanitize compared to older adults (36% vs. 18%).

"We also asked Northwest residents to look into their crystal ball to predict when they might feel safe resuming a number of activities that have been impacted by the pandemic," Wing added. "While many people felt comfortable engaging in some essential tasks like seeking health care or taking a trip to the store, we found there are more unknowns than answers when it comes to predicting how we might navigate daily life in the future."

In June 2020, about one-third of metro-area residents in Seattle and Portland felt safe visiting health care clinics and urgent care facilities, hospitals and retail shopping stores.

But when asked to look into the future, a majority of residents didn't know when they might feel safe sending their children to school, working inside a building and using public transportation. In Seattle and Portland, about more than three-quarters thought it would be at least the fall or longer, or even an unknown amount of time, before they'd feel safe working inside again. About nine out of 10 residents expected it to be the fall or an undetermined amount of time before they'd consider taking public transportation, and respondents felt similarly, with another nine out of 10 expressing uncertainty, about the timeline for sending kids back to school.

"Knowing when we feel safe doing some of these daily activities is such a personal decision and we know it'll be different for everyone," Wing said. "It may not be tomorrow, or even next month, but we look forward to the day we can safely come together as a community to enjoy the many aspects of Northwest living that we all love."

For a complete summary of PEMCO's proprietary poll results visit, where you'll find responses collected by FBK Research of Seattle in June 2020.

About the PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll

PEMCO Mutual Insurance commissioned this independent survey, conducted by FBK Research of Seattle, that asked Washington and Oregon residents questions about driving habits and attitudes toward current Northwest issues. The sample size, 578 respondents in Washington and 427 in Oregon, yields an accuracy of +/- 4.2 and 4.8% respectively at the 95% confidence level. In other words, if this study were conducted 100 times, in 95 instances the data will not vary by more than the associated error range.

Supplemental interviews were conducted with people living in the Seattle metro area, including King, Snohomish and Pierce counties, and those in the Portland metro area, including Clackamas, Marion, Multnomah and Washington counties. The sample size, 578 respondents in the Seattle area and 509 in the Portland area, yields an accuracy of +/- 4.2% and +/- 4.4% respectively at the 95% confidence level.

About PEMCO Mutual Insurance

PEMCO Mutual Insurance is the Defender of Your Northwest, providing auto, home, renters and boat coverage. We are consistently recognized for outstanding service, employee expertise and social impact. Our Mutual Good programs raise the achievement levels for youth in education; build stronger, greener environments; and increase safety at home, on the road and at play. Our mission: Free our communities to worry less and live more. To learn more, visit

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