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The number of Americans engaging in activities outside of their household is on the rise, and the highest it’s been since last summer (pre-Delta variant), according to the latest wave of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index. As people re-engage in the world around them, policy preferences are also shifting toward loosening some requirements around masking and vaccines. Furthermore, just one in ten would currently characterize the coronavirus as “a serious crisis,” while the vast majority believe it’s a problem, but a manageable one.
1. Behaviorally, people are (again) putting the pandemic behind them, and few see the current state of affairs as a crisis.
- Around two-thirds report going out to eat (65%) or visiting friends or relatives (66%) in the past week.
- This marks a subtle trend upward compared to last month, when reopening slowly began around the two-year anniversary of the pandemic’s start. However, for both measures, this is a double-digit increase from the beginning of the year, and matches the previous high point from last June (pre-Delta).
- The number of people who report experiencing mask requirements in public has declined. Now, 15% have personally experienced their state or local government requiring masks to be worn in all public places (down 12 percentage points from a month ago). Similarly, 22% of employed Americans say their employer is requiring masks at the workplace – down 17 percentage points from March.
- Just 9% would describe the state of the coronavirus in the U.S. as “a serious crisis” right now. Nearly twice as many (17%) say it’s not a problem at all. However, the vast majority, 73%, believe it’s a problem, but a manageable one.
2. As personal behaviors shift, support for some mask and vaccine requirements in public places has also declined.
- Currently, 36% support businesses requiring customers to show proof of vaccination before being allowed into stores or restaurants. This is down from 51% in early February, when we first asked.
- Fewer also now support their local school district requiring everyone in schools to wear masks (51%, down from 65-70% last fall when the school year started).
- The number of Americans who support their state or local government requiring masks in all public places has also dipped below 50% for the first time – now, 44% support such a requirement, down from 50% last month and 67% at the beginning of the year (during the height of the Omicron variant).
- One exception to this rule is the public’s view of requirements for healthcare workers. Two-thirds (65%) support requiring all people in a healthcare setting to be vaccinated against COVID-19. This number has not changed over the past few months, possibly indicating the public holds healthcare workers to a different standard than they do the broader population.
3. Perhaps informing these personal and policy-related shifts is the fact that most Americans feel key measures – COVID cases, hospitalization rates, and deaths – are decreasing in their state, at this moment.
- More than half of Americans (ranging from 54%-64%) believe these measures are decreasing in their state at this moment.
- Just 3% say COVID-related deaths are increasing in their state right now, and 6% say the same about hospitalization rates.
- At the time of publishing this poll, public health data indicates these measures are either experiencing a slight uptick or staying the same.