‘People aren’t as tuned in’: New poll finds Americans have ‘checked out’ on COVID-19 amid latest rise

With inflation, crime, and a baby formula shortage to worry about, a new poll has found that many Americans have “checked out” when it comes to stressing over COVID-19, even as cases continue to climb across the country.

More and more — even in Democratic-led cities — people are ditching their masks and are returning to a semblance of normalcy. In fact, just 36% of Americans now believe that going back to their “normal pre-coronavirus live” poses a significant risk, according to a poll this week from Axios-Ipsos.

This, as cases of COVID-19 are currently on the rise, topping 100,000 per day.

On Wednesday, Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stated that fully one-third of Americans live in an area deemed to be either a “medium” or “high” risk.

“[Thirty-two percent] of the U.S. population is in a location with a medium or high COVID-19 Community Level,” she tweeted. “Communities should encourage the use of prevention strategies, including masking and increasing access to testing and treatment, based on community levels.”

Still, perhaps because there are simply so many more pressing things to think about, such as the price of gas or a scarcity of formula, Americans appear to be over the virus.

“People have checked out a little bit,” said Chris Jackson, senior vice president at Ipsos, a polling firm. “People aren’t as tuned in.”

Neither, notes The Hill, are our politicians.

“Unlike earlier in his tenure, Biden has not been issuing sustained warnings about COVID-19, instead focusing on the war in Ukraine and efforts to fight rising prices,” The Hill reports, adding that NYC Mayor Eric Adams (D) has “declined to reimpose mask mandates despite the city rising to a ‘high’ COVID-19 level.”

“It appears as though there’s a new norm that is settling in our city and our country,” Adams  said. “Variants are going to come. If every variant that comes, we move into shutdown thoughts, we move into panicking, we’re not going to function as a city.”

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According to the Biden administration’s former senior adviser on COVID-19 response, Andy Slavitt, there are now “fewer policy levers” the administration can pull given the current national attitude.

“You have to understand that at this point in time that you can’t make people necessarily care more than they do,” Slavitt said.

We have come a long way since the beginning of the pandemic.

On the market now are a variety of vaccines, boosters, and effective therapeutic treatments that have reduced the need for hospitalization in many cases, but as The Hill notes, Congressional funding “to boost supplies of treatments and purchase updated vaccines” have stalled — even as, this week, the U.S. passed 1 million deaths.

With Congress focused intently on the war in Ukraine and the upcoming midterms, COVID-19 response seems to have taken a back burner.

That could, however, change should the situation worsen, given that the majority of Americans acknowledge that the pandemic isn’t “over.”

“It’s not necessarily something they’re going to shut their lives down about,” said Jackson, “but when we ask point blank, ‘Is the pandemic over?’ two thirds say, ‘no.'”

White House COVID-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha warned this week that, without funding to stock up on therapeutics such as Pfizer’s new Paxlovid — which, when taken within five days of the onset of symptoms, reduces the risk of severe illness or death by approximately 90% — the nation may run out when winter comes.

“We’re using therapeutics to save lives; we’ve got to continue doing that,” she said. “At some point, we’re going to run out of the treatments we have. And without additional resources, we will find ourselves in the fall or winter with people getting infected and no treatments available for them because we will have run out.”

 

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