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Philadelphia, PA and Nationwide

When the COVID-19 crisis put our National Study of Playgrounds project on hold, our research team pivoted to understand how masking behavior differed in public spaces across Philadelphia and major US cities.

We created the System for Observing Mask Adherence and Distancing (SOMAD) as a direct observation tool that allows for documentation of masking behaviors, gender, age, race/ethnicity, and physical activity. We used the tool in 3 settings in Philadelphia - commercial intersections, public parks, and playgrounds. 

We observed over 4600 people in a 3-week period in August 2020. Observations will continue through October to understand masking behaviors over time. 

We have also invited citizen scientists from across the country to collect data in their communitites as part of a national study of mask adherence.

Click here to see our preliminary report. The protocol, training slides, and links to the SOMAD tool can be found here.


30 Sites, 4,600 People



Dr. Deborah Cohen, Dr. Thomas MacKenzie, Dr. Bing Han, Stephanie Williamson


Completed Fall 2020

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