Concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, and measures to mitigate spread, continue to decline

Carl BialikU.S. Politics Editor and Vice President of Data Science
Taylor OrthSenior Survey Data Journalist
April 04, 2022, 5:14 PM GMT+0

The latest Economist/YouGov poll indicates that Americans continue to feel optimistic about the pandemic and have been taking fewer precautions, though there are small signs of a possible reversal of trends — for instance, in people’s estimation of the direction of case counts locally and nationwide. Responses to questions we’ve asked repeatedly during the pandemic find results similar to the previous peak period for optimism, summer 2021.

As the effects of the BA.2 variant of the COVID-19 virus are seen in official case counts and media reports, the share of Americans who say the number of cases in their community is increasing has risen modestly, to 10% from 6% two weeks ago, and the percentage who say local cases are decreasing has fallen to 55% from 61%. The trend on views of national case counts is similar.

Nonetheless, the share of Americans who say the worst part of the pandemic is behind us has held steady in recent weeks (57% this week) as has the share who say the pandemic is going to get worse (11%). 

Nearly one-third (32%) of Americans say they have not worn a face mask outside their home in the past seven days, the highest since we’ve started asking in September 2020 including the prior high of 31% in July 2021. The share who say they’ve always worn one over the past seven days is down to a new low of 21%.

While wearing of masks has dropped and many constituencies have ended mask requirements, support for mask mandates hasn’t shifted much recently: 48% of Americans strongly or somewhat support a policy making mask-wearing mandatory in indoor spaces, roughly unchanged in weekly polls over the last month.

Longer term, support for mask mandates in schools has dropped sharply: 36% support requiring K-12 students to wear masks in schools while 40% oppose. When we last asked five months ago, those percentages were 53% and 32%.

Vaccines continue to be appealing options for defending against COVID for people who already have been vaccinated. Among Americans who have gotten at least three shots of any COVID vaccine — a group that makes up less than half of all adult citizens — 24% say they want another one right away and another 48% want one, “but not yet.”

Other Americans continue to say, at a steady rate, that they will not get vaccinated at all. In this week’s poll the share is 19% — lower among college graduates, in the Northeast, and in urban areas. The share among Democrats (7%) is about a quarter of that for Republicans (27%).

See more on the latest Economist/YouGov poll

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