Americans are ready to emerge from the pandemic

Data: Axios/Ipsos survey; Graphic: Simran Parwani/Axios

Two and a half years into the pandemic, Americans say they are doing well in most aspects of their lives, with the possible exception of their personal finances, according to the latest installment of the Axios Index /IpsosCoronavirus.

Why is this important: Many of us seem ready to take the credits from the pandemic, despite lingering political divisions over the response and some residual distrust of government and some health care institutions.

  • The public’s perception of personal risk is also at a low point, and people are starting to pick and choose more where they deem it necessary to take precautions like masking.

Between the lines: Although there have been no significant changes in behavior since last spring, there has been a general improvement in public mood.

  • An overwhelming majority report having very good or fairly good physical health (83%), mental health (85%), emotional well-being (84%) and family life (90%).
  • But only 78% said they had very good or fairly good personal finances.
  • The results may bode well for Democrats who are reluctant to discuss COVID or remind people that there is still a health threat as the midterms approach.
  • But it could also make it difficult for the Biden administration to drum up interest in getting reformulated booster shots.

What they say : “Most Americans have moved on from the COVID pandemic, even though most recognize that the virus is likely to be with us for the long haul,” said Cliff Young, chairman of Ipsos US Public Affairs.

  • “While interest in simple preventatives, like the new Omicron-specific booster, remains high, most people are taking the COVID risks right away.”
  • That doesn’t mean most Americans think we’re over the pandemic: 65% disagree that it’s over, while only 33% agree.
  • The poll found that 60% plan to get the new booster by the end of the year and a further 7% say they will get it next year, with 32% not sure.

The plot: While the majority of Americans may not be focused on the evolution of the pandemic, they have increasingly developed a hierarchy of when it is appropriate to wear a mask.

  • 48% say they always or sometimes wear masks on planes, and 39% do so on trains, buses, taxis or rideshares.
  • Only about a quarter will do so when outdoors in crowded spaces, in small gatherings indoors, or when entering a restaurant to dine indoors.

The public also continues to struggle with what the pandemic has meant on an individual and broader societal level.

  • 73% strongly or somewhat agree that the pandemic-related shutdowns were necessary to save lives, but 51% say they also caused unnecessary damage to the economy.
  • 88% say COVID has changed Americans’ lives forever, though 82% say we’re in a better place today than a year ago.

The big picture: Although the COVID response is not the political lightning rod it was even a year ago, some institutions have emerged with diminished public trust.

  • For example, 62% say they have a great deal or a fair amount of confidence in the Centers for Disease Control to provide accurate information, compared to 84% when Axios and Ipsos began polling on the crisis in March 2020.
  • And although President Biden’s trust numbers have increased in recent months, 53% say they still don’t trust him at all or very much to provide accurate information about COVID-19.

Methodology: This Axios/Ipsos survey was conducted from September 9 to 12 by Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel®. This survey is based on a nationally representative random sample of 1,158 adults aged 18 or older.

  • The margin of sampling error is ±3.1 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults.

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