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Despite the availability of COVID-19 vaccines, the pandemic’s persistence and recent spikes in cases have heightened the need for the promotion of protective behaviors notably, the continued use of face coverings (or ‘masks’ in the common parlance for COVID-related face coverings). Effective messaging on mask use is essential to more fully resonate with individuals and their shared communities. Studies covering rural or mostly-urban regions in the U.S. are sparse. Accordingly, an interdisciplinary team of social work and public health researchers explored mask wearing behaviors in a small, urban metro community consisting of two cities spanning North Dakota and Minnesota that serves a mostly rural region. Chi-square tests for independence revealed nuanced gender and age-based differences in face covering usage. Significant factors in mask usage included satisfaction with available information and related public education efforts, and approval from people perceived to be important. Findings suggest the value of utilizing parasocial interactions to promote protective behaviors such as face covering use. This paper discusses additional implications.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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