Poll: Many Americans are resuming pre-virus activities

Michael Dwyer / AP

In this file photo from June 5, 2021, crowds gather on L Street Beach in Boston’s South Boston neighborhood.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Many Americans are relaxing precautions taken during the COVID-19 pandemic and resuming their daily activities, though some fear coronavirus restrictions may be hastily lifted, a new poll shows.

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll finds that the majority of Americans who did so regularly before the pandemic say they return to bars or restaurants, travel, and attend events such as movies or sports.

Only 21% are very or extremely worried about a COVID-19 infection in those around them – the lowest level since the start of the pandemic – and only 25% are very concerned that the restrictions lifted could lead to the infection of people additional in their community.

Andrea Moran, a 36-year-old freelance writer and mother of two boys, said she felt both relief and joy at the thought of resuming ‘doing the little things’, like having a drink on the patio. of a restaurant with her husband.

“Honestly, I almost cried,” Moran said. “It’s such a feeling to have gone through the wringer, and we’re finally starting to come out of it.”

Yet 34% of Americans believe restrictions in their area were lifted too quickly, while slightly fewer – 27% – say they weren’t lifted quickly enough. About 4 in 10 people roughly assess the pace of reopening.

The way Americans approached their daily lives suddenly changed after the spread of COVID-19 in the United States in early 2020. On the advice of health officials and governments, people isolated in their homes – alone or with families – to avoid exposure to the virus, which has sickened more than 33 million people and killed 600,000 people in the United States

At the height of the pandemic, restaurants, cinemas and stores closed or continued to operate with limited occupancy; church services, schools and government meetings have gone virtual; and many employers have made working from home an option or a requirement. Wearing a mask in public has become the norm in most places, with some states and cities making it mandatory.

The emergence of the vaccine helped slow infection and death rates, allowing national and local economies to reopen and causing Americans to resume the activities they once enjoyed.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last month that vaccinated Americans did not have to wear masks in most scenarios, indoors or outdoors. The latest CDC data shows that 53% of all Americans – 65% of those 18 and over – have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

According to the AP-NORC poll, American adults who have not yet rolled up their sleeves for shooting are still hesitant to do so. Only 7% of those who haven’t been vaccinated say they will definitely get a COVID-19 vaccine, and 15% say they likely will.

Forty-six percent of Americans who haven’t been vaccinated say they definitely won’t, and 29% say they probably won’t. Young adults, Americans without a college degree, white evangelicals, rural Americans, and Republicans are the most reluctant to get the vaccine.

The poll found that many Americans still wear masks and take precautions to avoid contact with other people, but the percentage of those who do is down significantly from just a few months ago.

At the end of February, 65% said they still wore a mask around people outside their home. Today, only 37% say so, although 19% say they often wear one.

Forty percent of Americans say they are extremely or very likely to wear a mask when participating in indoor activities outside of their home, while only 28% say the same about outdoor activities .

Aaron Siever, 36, of New Market, Va., Said he and his wife regularly wore masks and took other precautions, including getting vaccinated. But Siever said virus restrictions had not been lifted quickly enough, lamenting that some precautions had been politicized and were causing “inherent panic.”

“I think with the masks worn and the people vaccinated, I think we could have opened a little earlier,” said Siever, who maintains the Civil War battlefields grounds in Virginia. “We started to focus on reopening policy rather than health. “

Now that most states have lifted the restrictions, the poll finds that about two-thirds of Americans who travel at least once a month say they will do so in the next few weeks. About three-quarters of restaurant or bar regulars before the pandemic say they will come back now. A year ago, only about half said they would travel or eat out if they could.

Likewise, more and more people are returning to activities such as visiting friends and family, seeing movies or concerts, attending sporting events, and shopping for non-essential items in person.

In Cookeville, Tennessee, Moran said her family still regularly wore masks in public, especially when they were indoors or in the presence of many people. She and her husband have been vaccinated. Moran said she had eaten at outdoor restaurants, but avoided eating indoors.

“Even though the air conditioning circulation is good, I don’t feel comfortable walking in at the moment, where there are a lot of people quite close together that I don’t know,” Moran said.

Moran said his family avoided non-essential travel during the height of the pandemic, canceling a trip to see his brother in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. But last weekend the family traveled for the first time in over a year – an approximately 3.5-hour road trip to Asheville, NC, to visit a childhood friend. .

“I felt a little nervous just because being around people is such a surreal thing after so long,” Moran said. “I was really excited and I was delighted for my children that they were able to come out and come back to some semblance of normalcy.”

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Fingerhut reported from Washington.

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The AP-NORC survey of 1,125 adults was conducted June 10-14 using a sample drawn from the AmeriSpeak probability-based NORC panel, which is designed to be representative of the US population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.2 points.

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