By Megan Brenan of Gallup
Three in 10 Americans say they are worried about contracting COVID-19, marking the lowest point in a year's worth of measurement, as vaccinations against the disease continue to rise in the U.S. This includes 5% of U.S. adults who say they are "very worried" and 25% "somewhat worried."
This latest finding, from Gallup's April 19-25 COVID-19 probability-based web panel survey, is five percentage points lower than it was in March and 19 points lower than in February. The highest reading, 59%, was recorded last summer, but it was nearly as high (57%) at the end of 2020 as the vaccine rollout was just beginning. Since then, Americans' level of worry has steadily fallen as vaccinations in the U.S. have risen sharply.
Still, one-third of those who are fully or partially vaccinated are worried about getting COVID-19, as are 44% of those who plan to get the vaccine but have not done so. Yet just 13% of U.S. adults who do not plan to be vaccinated express worry.
While worry has fallen among all partisans, Democrats' has fallen the most, from 69% in February to 43% now. At the same time, Republicans' level of concern has dropped from 27% to 14% and independents' from 43% to 27%.
Views of Pandemic Remain Positive, but Less So Than in March
Although a broad majority of Americans, 69%, say the coronavirus situation is getting better, this measure has declined eight points since March, when it rose 17 points from the previous month
In addition, 18% of Americans say the situation is staying the same and 14% say it is getting worse.
Several events that occurred during the April poll's field period may explain the modest decline since March in perceptions the situation is getting better. The daily vaccination count in the U.S. began to decline after peaking earlier in the month. Additionally, the temporary pause of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) due to safety concerns took effect the week prior to the start of the poll and was lifted shortly before the survey ended. By April, concerns about multiple variants of the disease continued to mount and India plunged into a deep crisis, recording the world's biggest one-day surge in new COVID-19 cases.
Social Distancing Behaviors Hit Lowest Points
As more U.S. adults have been vaccinated, they have begun to follow the CDC's advice and relax their social distancing behaviors. Thirty percent of Americans now say they are completely or mostly isolating themselves from people outside their household, down eight points from March and the lowest reading since a year ago, when as many as 75% were doing so.
Similarly, Americans' avoidance of a variety of specific activities has fallen to the lowest points since mid-March 2020. While majorities still say they have avoided events with large crowds (60%) and travel by airplane, bus, subway or train (55%) in the past week, fewer have stayed away from public places such as stores or restaurants (44%) and small gatherings with family or friends (37%).
Although participation in more activities is on the rise, face mask use remains high, with 86% of U.S. adults saying they have worn one outside their home in the past week. It is, however, slightly diminished from the 91% recorded in late 2020 and early 2021.
With COVID-19 vaccinations rising and cases in the U.S. falling, Americans are now less worried about contracting the disease than they have been since the pandemic began. They are also optimistic about the trajectory of the coronavirus situation in the U.S., although less so than in March when vaccinations were steadily increasing. By April, as supply began to catch up with demand, positivity was somewhat tempered.
As more Americans become vaccinated, states are loosening restrictions and the public is relaxing social distancing behaviors. Still, they generally remain cautious, are wearing masks in public and support requiring proof of vaccination to participate in some activities. Despite glimpses of normalcy, hesitancy to travel and be in large crowds remains high, and a majority of Americans think the disruption from the pandemic will last through the end of 2021 (44%) or longer (23%).