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West Virginia University Students Partner with CDC for Mask Observation Study – CBS Pittsburgh

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (KDKA) – When universities began this fall, the number of coronavirus cases was sky high among young people ages 18-29.

At West Virginia University, student researchers teamed up with the CDC to see if masks played a role in those numbers.

“We have eight students, so four groups that pair up and visit these places twice a week for about an hour to make about 40 observations. Our goal each week is to make about 400 observations, ”said Keith Zullig, professor at WVU.

(Photo credit: KDKA)

Those places are considered high traffic areas and student researchers are looking for a mask or not. Then the next question, is the mask being used the right way? The study started early in the semester and the first weeks of data are coming in.

"We've made a little over 1,000 observations so far and about 84 percent of people wear masks and 85 to 86 percent of those wear them correctly," Zullig said.

Currently, 30 percent of WVU classes use classroom instruction. But if you enter the campus, a mask is required.

Zullig told KDKA that he was not surprised by the data due to the education that was taking place on campus.

“What we don't know is when the students are not on campus. That's what we can't control and where you hear about these things where students get together and do things, "Zullig said.

He said it's unlikely that in college 100 percent of students wear masks correctly, but their hope is that it eventually increases to more than 90 percent.

"Our ultimate goal is to strengthen mitigation strategies and improve knowledge about proper mask use," said Zullig .

The study lasts seven weeks, so the last observation period will take place just before Thanksgiving.

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