Americans relax masks and non-essential travel despite new Covid wave warning | Travel

Many Americans have taken significant steps away from routine coronavirus precautions, with less than half now saying they regularly wear face masks, avoid crowds and avoid non-essential travel.

Americans are letting their guard down even as experts warn a new wave of Covid-19 cases is coming. A new Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll shows fewer people taking protective measures than at any time in AP-NORC polls conducted since early 2021.

The poll found 44% say they often or always wear a face mask around people outside their homes, up from 65% in January when infections of the highly contagious omicron variant were skyrocketing. Only 40% say they largely avoid non-essential travel, down from 60% in January. And 47% say they regularly stay away from large groups, compared to 65% in January.

Most Americans say they at least sometimes follow these safeguards. But they are increasingly returning to pre-pandemic norms as coronavirus infections have fallen to their lowest level since July.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention no longer recommends masking indoors for most Americans, while cities are lifting mask and vaccine requirements for entering restaurants, bars and restaurants. concert halls. And more and more American workers are returning to their offices after two years of working from home.

Judy Morgan, a retired teacher from Poulsbo, Wash., said she and her husband, a Navy veteran, have gradually become more relaxed about wearing masks and other precautions since receiving their booster shots at the end of October. About six weeks ago, she started shopping without a mask again when the Navy base where she shops stopped requiring face coverings.

“I thought when the military starts to relax, because they’re pretty strict, that’s a really good sign,” Morgan, 80, said.

Morgan and her husband plan to put their masks back on at the airport later this week when they fly to Florida to celebrate her birthday. She said they were very cautious earlier in the pandemic because her husband has a heart condition which makes him more vulnerable to serious illnesses from Covid-19 – and she is ready to return to this behavior if another serious wave of strikes.

“Hopefully it will decrease and each variation will be a little less viral or meaningful,” Morgan said. “But I’m afraid something new is happening.”

Experts say the coronavirus isn’t going away, and most Americans agree the virus will stay. In January, an AP-NORC poll showed just 15% of Americans said the pandemic would be over when Covid-19 was largely eliminated. Most said they expected the pandemic to end when it was largely a mild virus.

But that may not be the case yet. Experts are still saying that new variants could soon trigger a new wave of growing infections in the United States so far, infections of this variant appear to be rare.

Sonia Montoya, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, is taking no chances. The 65-year-old accountant still works remotely from her office colleagues, orders all restaurant meals to go and makes sure to wear a mask when shopping or going to church. Six of Montoya’s relatives and friends died from the virus, and she said she was still very worried she would get sick even though she was vaccinated.

“He came back and hit us again once before, and I have a feeling if we’re not careful we’ll do it again,” Montoya said. “Yeah, it’s slowing down, but there’s a lot of stupid people out there, especially the younger ones who don’t think it’s serious.

Since vaccines became widely available to the American public, AP-NORC polls have consistently shown that vaccinated people are more concerned about infections and more likely to take preventive measures than unvaccinated people. The vaccinated are still more likely than the unvaccinated to say they always or often avoid non-essential travel (44% to 29%), stay away from large groups (51% to 32%) and that they wear face masks around other people (49% to 26%).

But the new poll shows that over the past two months, the vaccinated and the unvaccinated have become less likely to take these precautions regularly. Similarly, Democrats and Republicans are less likely than they were in January to say they frequently take protective action.

Jason Newman, of Greenville, Kentucky, said he never wore a mask unless he had to, he didn’t care to dine out, and he had never been vaccinated. He said he had tested positive for Covid-19 twice but had suffered no symptoms either time.

The 43-year-old postal worker said in recent months he’s noticed more people who seem to deal with the virus the way he does.

“It will always be there no matter what because they won’t be able to eradicate it, Newman said. “I think, overall, they’re everywhere.”

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