The Delta coronavirus variant may have medical experts very concerned, and recent COVID deaths are almost entirely among those who are not vaccinated. But most Americans don’t label the Delta variant as any more dangerous to them personally than the original COVID-19 virus, especially the unvaccinated.
In the latest Economist/YouGov poll, the difference in concern about the two is trivial — especially among the 19% of Americans who say they will not get vaccinated. Fewer than half of Americans are worried about personally experiencing COVID-19 (44%) or the Delta variant (47%). Just one-third of unvaccinated Americans (36%) are worried about contracting COVID-19 or the more contagious variant (40%).
There is much more concern from those who are in the process of becoming fully vaccinated, and those who have not yet begun but claim they will. Seven in ten in those two groups combined (70%) worry about the Delta variant.
Only 30% of the public claim that they have heard “a lot” about the Delta variant as of now, though more than eight in ten Americans (84%) have heard at least something about the variant. The fully vaccinated appear to be the most well-informed about the new variant (90% are aware of it).
The country is recovering from more than a year of mask-wearing, quarantining, and social distancing (though there have been regional and political differences in these behaviors). Little by little, Americans are going without masks — at least outdoors.
In the last two weeks, the share of Americans who say they never wear a mask when they go out of the house has risen eight-points (20% to 28%), while the share who wear a mask all the time when they go out has dropped four points (30% to 26%).
Once again, those who are planning to become fully vaccinated but have not done so yet remain the most cautious on this. Half of this group always wear masks when they leave their house. While the fully vaccinated today look very much like the total public, most who say they will not get vaccinated (59%) claim to always go without a mask.
Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 US Adult Citizens interviewed online between June 26 - 29, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. The margin of error is approximately 3.1% for the overall sample.