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How can scholars conduct field research when there is limited access to the field? This article first identifies how limited and uncertain field access can affect field research and then provides recommendations to address these challenges. We focus on conducting field research in Japan because of our substantive expertise, but we believe that the problems and solutions outlined in this article are applicable to a broad range of countries. Our hope is that this article contributes to the developing literature on conducting research during times of emergency and to the larger literature on best practices for field research.
Public mask use has emerged as a key tool in response to COVID-19. We develop a classification of statewide mask mandates that reveals variation in their scope and timing. Some US states quickly mandated wearing of face coverings in most public spaces, whereas others issued narrow mandates or no mandate at all. We consider how differences in COVID-19 epidemiological indicators and partisan politics affect when states adopted broad mask mandates, starting with the earliest mandates in April 2020 and continuing through the end of 2020. The most important predictor is the presence of a Republican governor, delaying statewide indoor mask mandates an estimated 98.0 days on average. COVID-19 indicators such as confirmed case or death rates are much less important predictors. This finding highlights a key challenge to public efforts to increase mask wearing, one of the most effective tools for preventing the spread of SARS-CoV-2 while restoring economic activity.
We explore the US states’ evolving policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic by examining governors’ decisions to begin easing five types of social distancing policies after the initial case surge in March–April 2020. Applying event history models to original data on state COVID-19 policies, we test the relative influence of health, economic, and political considerations on their decisions. We find no evidence that differences in state economic conditions influenced when governors began easing. Governors of states with larger recent declines in COVID-19 deaths per capita and improving trends in new confirmed cases and test positivity were quicker to ease. However, politics played as powerful a role as epidemiological conditions, driven primarily by governors’ party affiliation. Republican governors made the policy U-turn from imposing social distancing measures toward easing those measures a week earlier than Democratic governors, all else equal. Most troubling of all, we find that states with larger Black populations eased their social distancing policies more quickly, despite Black Americans’ higher exposure to infection from SARS-CoV-2 and subsequent death from COVID-19.
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