A new Gallup survey finds that only three in 10 Americans think the pandemic is over. But by a purely scientific measure in the United States, it sure seems like the worst is over. New cases have been in steady decline since late March, with a few regional spikes. Many retailers have abandoned mask mandates and restaurants are essentially back to full capacity in areas where restrictions have been completely lifted.
And none of the doomsday scenarios happened. Not even when Governor Brian Kemp decided to reopen Georgia, to the dismay and criticism of everyone from President Trump to MSNBC. Despite unchecked border crossings, Governor Greg Abbott’s so-called “Neanderthal” decision to end Texas mask mandates did not lead to a catastrophe. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has constantly confounded critics. And some states that never closed, such as South Dakota and Utah, never stopped living normally.
Yet, according to a Gallup poll, only 29% feel as if the pandemic is over. The poll was taken between June 14-20, just as summer was ramping up and asked: “In your opinion, is the coronavirus pandemic over in the U.S. or not?”
There are a few surprises in the data. For example, younger Americans are the least likely to say the pandemic is over. And there is not a huge regional difference in the responses. Despite the South being in the process of or fully reopened the longest, optimism is not significantly more prevalent.
It’s not too surprising that men say the pandemic is over at higher rates than women, or that Republicans seem to be the most optimistic, with a 53-point difference between them and Democrats. This may have something to do with a person’s media diet. Previously surveys found that people on the Right more accurately assessed the risks of severe illness and death from COVID-19.
Even though 89% of Americans say the COVID-19 situation is getting better and a majority report that their lives are not being affected much, they still say the pandemic is not over. A full 65% of respondents say healthy people need to get back to normal rather than staying home. This is smart since transmission within households is significantly higher than out in public, for the most part. And outdoors is one of the safest places you can be.
Despite the fact that a majority of Americans say the pandemic is ongoing, air travel reached 75% of pre-pandemic levels over Memorial Day weekend. Disneyland dropped pandemic rules on June 15 and experienced huge crowds and long lines. Spring break came to Florida beaches without any significant issues, even though the travelers likely were not practicing a whole lot of social distancing.
I have been to restaurants at capacity in Virginia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, and Georgia in the last few months. I am looking for the people convinced we are still in the midst of a pandemic and am having trouble picking them out.