MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Many Americans are relaxing precautions taken during the COVID-19 pandemic and resuming everyday activities, even as some worry that coronavirus-related restrictions were hastily lifted, a new poll shows.
The poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that majorities of Americans who were regularly doing so before the pandemic say they are returning to bars or restaurants, traveling and attending events such as movies or sports.
Just 21% are very or extremely worried about a COVID-19 infection in their inner circle — the lowest level since the pandemic began — and only 25% are highly concerned that the lifted restrictions will lead to additional people being infected in their community.
Andrea Moran, a 36-year-old freelance writer and mother of two boys, said she feels both relief and joy at the chance to resume “doing the little things,” such as having drinks on a restaurant patio with her husband.
“Honestly, I almost cried,” Moran said. “It’s such a feeling of having been through the wringer, and we’re finally starting to come out of it.”
Still, 34% of Americans think restrictions in their area have been lifted too quickly, while somewhat fewer — 27% — say they were not lifted quickly enough. About 4 in 10 rate the pace of reopening about right.
The way Americans approached their daily lives suddenly changed after COVID-19 spread through the U.S. in early 2020. Following the advice of health officials and governments, people isolated in their homes — either 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 U.S.
During the height of the pandemic, restaurants, movie theaters and stores either closed or continued operating with limited occupancy; church services, schools and government meetings went virtual; and many employers made working from home an option or a requirement. Mask wearing in public became the norm in most places, with some states and cities making it mandatory.
The emergence of the vaccine has helped slow down rates of infection and death, allowing state and local economies to reopen and leading Americans to return to activities they once enjoyed.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised last month that vaccinated Americans don’t have to wear a mask in most scenarios, indoors or out. The latest CDC data shows 53% of all Americans — 65% of those 18 and older — 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 the shot remain hesitant to do so. Just 7% of those who have not been vaccinated say they definitely will get a COVID-19 vaccine, and 15% say they probably will.
Forty-six percent of Americans who have not been vaccinated say they will definitely not get a vaccine, and 29% say they probably will not. Young adults, Americans without a college degree, white evangelicals, rural Americans and Republicans are most hesitant to get vaccinated.
The poll finds many Americans are still wearing masks and taking precautions to avoid contact with other people, but the percentage of those doing so is down significantly from just a few months ago.
The AP-NORC poll of 1,125 adults was conducted June 10-14 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.2 points.