COVID-19 optimism in US sinks as cases surge: poll

What a difference a month can make.

Pessimism surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic is surging along with cases of the Delta variant in the US — with only 40 percent of Americans now saying the country is on the right track, down from 89 percent in June, according to a Gallup poll.

About 45 percent of Americans said the situation was getting worse, not better, in late July — marking a drastic turnaround from the month before and a psychological return to last year and this past winter, when most US residents were not optimistic the country was overcoming the virus, the poll found.

The new survey, conducted from July 19 to July 26 among US adults, found that Americans felt they had much less reason to be hopeful since the Delta variant became the most dominant strain.

Forty-two percent of respondents now expect COVID-19 disruptions to continue through 2022, up from 17 percent of people who felt that way in June, according to Gallup.

In July, 29 percent of Americans were very or somewhat worried about getting the virus, compared to just 17 percent of people the month before, the survey found.

A woman getting tested for COVID-19 at a drive-thru testing site in Miami, Florida on August 3, 2021.
A woman gets tested for COVID-19 at a drive-thru testing site in Miami on Aug. 3, 2021.
Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images

Still, even as they express heightened concerns, Americans are largely continuing to live their lives, according to the report.

Only about one in five Americans in both July and June said they are completely or mostly isolating themselves from non-household members, Gallup found.

There was also no meaningful change in the percentage of respondents who are avoiding public transit (37 percent), public places (28 percent) and large crowds (40 percent), according to the poll.

A man getting the COVI-19 vaccine from a nurse Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi on August 3, 2021.
A man gets a COVID-19 vaccine in Jackson, Mississippi, on Aug. 3, 2021.
AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

The survey, which was conducted before the CDC overhauled its mask guidance and recommended indoor mandates, found that fewer Americans were wearing masks, even as they grew more concerned. Sixty percent said they had covered their face in the past week, down from 79 percent in May, Gallup said.

This summer’s nationwide spike has overtaken last summer’s surge but is still well below January’s peak of infections, according to CDC data.

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