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U.S. COVID Cases Are Rising Again, but Worries Are Not

U.S. COVID Cases Are Rising Again, but Worries Are Not

Story Highlights

  • COVID worries down to their lowest level since July 2021
  • Social distancing efforts drop to new pandemic lows
  • Half of Americans still wear masks -- the lowest level since April 2020

On May 16, 2022, the Americans' Level of Worry About Getting COVID-19 graph was updated to reflect the correct data.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The steady increase in COVID-19 cases this past month is not disconcerting to Americans, as they are less worried now about the coronavirus than they were at the start of the year, and fewer are social distancing.

Fewer than one in three U.S. adults (31%) say they are "very" or "somewhat worried" about getting COVID-19, statistically similar to the 34% recorded in mid-February when cases were steeply declining after the omicron spike. Americans' current worry level is the lowest Gallup has recorded since July 2021.


These data are from a Gallup survey conducted April 15-23, when COVID cases in the U.S. were steadily increasing following a massive falloff of the omicron variant spike. Cases have continued to climb gradually in the weeks since the survey, but the latest increases pale in comparison to the massive spike recorded during the winter.

Most Say the COVID-19 Situation Is Improving

Nearly two in three Americans (64%) say the COVID-19 situation is "getting better," similar to the 63% recorded in February. Twenty-one percent say the situation is "staying about the same," while 12% say it is "getting worse."


Social Distancing Down to New Pandemic Lows

With worry down, social distancing efforts have dipped to their lowest levels since the pandemic began.

When asked to broadly describe their social distancing practices in the past 24 hours, 17% of Americans say they "completely" or "mostly isolated" themselves from people outside their household -- which is, by one percentage point, the lowest Gallup has recorded in its tracking since March 2020. Most Americans (53%) report that they did not make any attempt to isolate, representing the first time since the start of the pandemic that a majority has said this.


Focusing on some specific ways people may be protecting themselves, Americans are most likely to report avoiding events with large crowds (32%), but this is down nine percentage points from February and marks a new low in Gallup's trend.

Even fewer Americans are avoiding public places (21%) and small gatherings (15%) -- both also at new lows.


Half of U.S. Adults Still Wear Masks Outside of Their Home

Mask-wearing in public, too, has become less common. Half of Americans (50%) say they have worn a mask outside their home in the last seven days. This comes after various federal, state and local policies on masking have loosened in many places across the country in recent weeks.

The last time Americans reported wearing masks at this rate was in early April 2020. That was shortly after the CDC reversed its guidance against mask-wearing, and Americans were still getting acclimated to the practice.


Bottom Line

An uptick in new COVID-19 cases hasn't dampened Americans' optimism about the status of the pandemic, and many are no longer taking the precautions that defined U.S. life for more than two years.

A sizable three in 10 still report great concern about COVID-19, however. This has led to disagreements between leaders and health officials on personal and public policies, as restrictions have fallen, and a growing number of Americans seek to return to public events and go about life without a mask.

Americans' behaviors and attitudes have largely been influenced by the pandemic's trajectory, including the spikes of the delta and omicron variants. It's possible that a particularly large increase in new cases, such as the omicron spike, could drive people away from public gatherings or increase mask usage. But it is also possible that Americans, many of whom are vaccinated and/or boosted, may have adopted a more relaxed attitude about life in a pandemic.

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