No later than Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index, the number of Americans participating in activities outside of their homes is increasing. From April 8-11, 65 percent of respondents said they had recently dined out, while another 66 percent said they had been there with friends or family. That’s a sharp increase from January, the poll found, when just 46 percent and 50 percent of Americans, respectively, said the same thing.
In addition, fewer and fewer people are in favor of precautionary measures to prevent the virus from spreading. The survey found that just 36 percent of respondents wanted companies to require customers to show they had been vaccinated — down 15 percentage points from February, when the question was first asked. Part of this changing attitude may be because Americans are increasingly saying the worst of the pandemic is behind us: a separate one Economist/YouGov Poll found that at the end of March, just 11 percent of those polled believed the pandemic was getting worse, compared with 31 percent who felt the same way in early January.
There’s still a lot we don’t know about it, but at this point Americans don’t seem as concerned about it as they were about the delta wave that rocked the nation last summer or last fall and winter omicron wave. In mid-September, as cases surged nationwide, a Morning Consult tracking survey found that a third (33 percent) of adults viewed COVID-19 as a “serious” health risk to their community. Earlier this week, that number was just 15 percent.
Support for preventive measures such as vaccination requirements, particularly in the workplace, has also declined. According to a March survey by Pew Research Center, just 29 percent of US adults said employers should require employees to get vaccinated. A majority of respondents (44 percent) said vaccines should be promoted instead. Last July and August, per GallupSupport for these measures was much larger, with 52 percent of US adults saying they were in favor of worker immunization requirements versus 38 percent saying they were against.
In a way, the fact that fewer Americans are worried about contracting COVID-19 shouldn’t be to surprised. As FiveThirtyEight’s Jean Yi noted in February, Americans seem increasingly to accept the fact that COVID-19 could be here forever. And while there’s still a lot we don’t know about BA.2, it’s also possible that this subvariant just won’t be as deadly like previous waves, and that’s why Americans just think differently about the virus.
Pandemic fatigue could be an additional factor. As the chart below shows, American attitudes towards COVID-19 did not change significantly from March to April, according to the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index. In both months, 30 percent of respondents said they support a return to “life as usual” with no COVID-19 mandates or requirements. But that’s very different from just a few months earlier when respondents were looking at the virus: in early February, less than a quarter of respondents (21 percent) said the same thing. The American perception of mask requirements has also changed drastically since then. About two months ago, in the same poll, 21 percent of adults said we should increase Mask requirements and vaccination precautions, compared to just 6 percent who thought the same way in April.