As the omicron variant spreads throughout the United States, a recent poll from the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found more Americans are concerned about Covid-19 now than in previous months. However, fewer are taking personal precautions compared with the spring.
Americans' concerns about Covid-19
For the poll, researchers surveyed 1,089 adults from Dec. 2 through Dec. 7. They found that 36% of respondents said they're extremely or very worried about themselves or a family member getting Covid-19, an increase from 25% in October.
However, while 71% of vaccinated people said they are at least somewhat concerned about Covid-19, 55% of unvaccinated people said they have little or no worry about it.
Meanwhile, 57% of respondents said they are still staying away from large groups, a number that has remained fairly steady since June. However, 57% of respondents said they wear a face mask when around other people outside their home, a slight increase from 51% in August but significantly less than the 78% who said the same in April and May.
And while more Americans are concerned about Covid-19 now, activity levels are still about the same as they were in June, with large majorities of Americans saying they plan to go shopping in person for non-essential items, go out to a bar or restaurant, or visit friends or family.
David Cotton, a VP of public health research and evaluation at NORC who did not personally work on the survey, said the poll's results suggest many Americans are still willing to take Covid-19 precautions even over a year into the pandemic.
"In some ways I find that encouraging, that there are so many people who continue to persist and follow the science and take care of one another," Cotton said.
But Tara Kirk Sell, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said people are less likely to change their lives once a threat becomes familiar to them.
"We've been dealing with Covid for a long time, and we're going to be dealing with it for a long time," Sell said. "People are going to want to do things, so the focus should be on how can we help people think through those risks … rather than saying don't do 'X' or focusing on getting to zero risk." (AP-NORC poll, 12/13; Foody, Associated Press, 12/13)