Slight majority in US backs return to masks and social distancing: poll

Aug 3, 2021 – A slight majority of Americans are in favor of a return to wearing masks and social distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, according to a new poll released Monday by Monmouth University.

The poll, which was conducted before the CDC issued new indoor mask guidelines last week, found that 52% of Americans support mask renewal and distancing protocols in their state. About 46% opposed it.

The numbers split across political parties, with 85% of Democrats in favor of the return of masks and social distancing and 73% of Republicans opposed to the idea. The independents were divided, with 42% support and 55% against.

The poll, which was conducted July 21-26, included 804 adults across the United States.

About 57% of those polled said federal health agencies, such as the CDC, are handling the pandemic well, while 33% said agencies are doing poorly. At the same time, 59% said agencies gave mixed messages about the risks of COVID-19.

“I think Americans recognize that the CDC and other health agencies face a lot of uncertainties,” Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said in a statement.

“Still, it’s difficult for the average person to understand the switch from optional masks to necessary ones again,” he said. “The message was not clear.”

Public concern over a new wave of the pandemic has grown over the past month. For example, around 57% of those polled in June said they believed another wave would occur if not enough people were vaccinated. Now that has gone down to 65%. At the same time, the number of “very concerned” people rose from 26% to 44%.

In addition, around 53% of those polled said they were at least “somewhat” concerned that a family member would become seriously ill from the coronavirus. This marks an increase from 42% in June, which was an all-time low during the pandemic. Another 30% said they were “very concerned” about a serious illness in their family, up from 23% in June.

About 48% of Americans said they were somewhat worried about catching one of the newer variants of the coronavirus. Those who had received at least one dose of the vaccine (57% of those surveyed) were much more likely to fear contracting COVID-19 from a contagious variant than the 17% of people who remain strongly opposed to vaccination.

“Many, if not most, anti-vaccines think Covid is a hoax or that they are unlikely to be infected,” Murray said. “Which means there may be very little you can do at this point to change your mind.”

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