FRIDAY, Aug. 20, 2021 (HealthDay News) — As coronavirus cases spike in the United States due to the highly contagious Delta variant, a new poll finds Americans’ anxiety about COVID-19 at its highest since January.
“I wouldn’t have said this a couple of years ago, but I’m not as confident as I was in America’s ability to take care of itself,” David Bowers, 42, a Peoria, Ariz., Democrat told the Associated Press, adding: “Now it feels like we’re going backward.”
As the nation’s hospitals fill to capacity and some states set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations, most Americans support vaccination mandates for crowded events, air travel, health care workers and certain other sectors, according to the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll.
The poll found that 41% of adults are “extremely” or “very” worried about themselves or their family becoming infected, compared with 21% in June, and 43% in January, when the last major surge occurred in the United States.
At least half of Americans still say they always or often wear a mask around others, shun large groups and avoid non-essential travel.
Nearly six in 10 favor requiring full vaccination for people to travel on airplanes or attend crowded public events, while roughly one-quarter oppose such measures, the findings showed.
About six in 10 adults support vaccine mandates for hospital and other health care staff, government employees, members of the military and workers such as those in restaurants and stores who deal with the public.
Fifty-one percent favor mandatory vaccination for people to go to restaurants or bars; 28% do not.
Fifty-five percent favor requiring people to wear masks when they’re around others from outside their home, and 62% support mask mandates for workers who deal with the public.
Predictably, there were strong partisan differences. Among Democrats, 85% favor mask mandates for public-facing workers, compared to 39% of Republicans, the AP reported.
“I see someone next to me at the doctor’s without a mask, it makes my heart rapidly beat faster,” said Carla Jones, 37, of Lafayette, La. She is a paraplegic with immunity problems and doctors have told her she cannot get the vaccine.
Jones, a Democrat, strongly favors vaccination and mask mandates, and not just for herself, she told the AP.
“For the good of all,” she said. “I don’t have the shot, but I definitely wouldn’t want to pass it on to anyone else.”
Just over half of U.S. adults are fully vaccinated, according to the AP. And, as of Thursday, 60% — nearly 200 million people — had received at least one vaccine dose, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Confidence in COVID-19 vaccines hasn’t dropped since the Biden administration announced plans this week to start providing booster shots come fall, the survey found.
But despite surging case numbers and increasing concern, most haven’t increased their safety measures since June, the researchers reported in an AP/NORC news release.
“The COVID is not going away very quickly, but I don’t think people should live in fear,” said Robbie Allen, 63, a retiree from Clifton, Texas. He motorcycled with his girlfriend to this month’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which attracted hundreds of thousands of people to South Dakota.
“People are going to die, but if we all hunker down, life gets miserable,” Allen told the AP, adding that he’s fully vaccinated and wears a mask when required to do so. A self-described independent who leans Republican, he sees mandates as taking the joy out of life, according to the AP.
As of last week, the United States had more than 75,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, significantly more than a few weeks ago, but still well below the record numbers of last winter.
In recent weeks, Florida, Arkansas, Oregon, Hawaii, Louisiana and Mississippi have set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations. The surge in the Delta variant, combined with low vaccination rates, has produced a scramble to find beds for patients, the AP reported.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on COVID-19.
SOURCE: Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, news release, Aug. 20, 2021