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Covid Illness Anxiety Plummets Amid Some Unease Over Low Vax Rate

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

4 in 10 maintain mask-wearing routine despite new CDC guidance

West Long Branch, NJ – Public anxiety about contracting Covid-19 has plummeted since the beginning of the year and stands at its lowest level since the pandemic began. At the same time, the Monmouth (“Mon-muth”) University Poll finds a majority of Americans have some concern about another possible surge in cases if not enough people get vaccinated. This comes as vaccination uptake may be maxing out, with 1 in 5 adults remaining opposed to getting the shot. Poll results also find nearly 4 in 10 Americans have not changed their mask-wearing habits despite new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Partisanship continues to be the key dividing line for both vaccine willingness and maintaining mask protocols.

Worries about a family member getting seriously ill from the coronavirus have plunged to an all-time low. Currently, 42% of the American public expresses concern about this happening. In prior polls since the pandemic started, that number ranged between 67% and 83%. Even more telling, the number who say they are very concerned about a serious illness in their family from Covid has dropped to 23% from 40% in March, after hitting a pandemic-era high of 60% in January. Prior to that, the number of adults who said they were very concerned ranged from 37% to 50% in polls taken throughout 2020.

“Vaccine access is certainly behind this sharp drop in Covid anxiety. The public is not saying we are out of the woods, but the sense of uncertainty is lifting,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

The decline in being very concerned about a serious Covid-related illness in one’s family is fairly consistent across demographic groups. There has been a slightly larger drop since January among women (from 65% to 24%) than among men (from 54% to 21%), and among those 65 years and older (from 67% to 23%) than among those under 65 years old (from 58% to 22%). Concerns among white Americans (from 55% in January to 17% now) and people of color (from 70% to 32%) have dropped by the same amount, but the latter group remains relatively more worried about someone in their family falling ill from the virus.

Partisan identity is one characteristic that shows a significant difference in the rate of decline over Covid illness concerns, although this is partly due to the fact that Republicans already started out with lower levels of anxiety. Percentages who are very concerned about a family member getting a serious illness have dropped by 47 points among Democrats since January (from 79% to 32%) and by a similar 40 points among independents (from 55% to 15%). It has declined by a smaller 21 points among Republicans (from 41% to 20%).

Other poll findings suggest the country is approaching the point of maxing out its vaccination rate. Currently, 66% report receiving at least one dose of Covid vaccine – which is in line with current CDC reports – while 2% will get it as soon as possible and 9% remain hesitant, but persuadable. However, 21% remain opposed to getting the vaccine at all – a number that has remained fairly consistent since the beginning of the year (ranging from 21% to 24%).

Racial gaps remain among those who have already received at least one dose of the vaccine (70% white versus 59% people of color), but outright opposition to getting the shot is most strongly correlated with one’s political affiliation. Specifically, among the 1 in 5 Americans who say they will not get the vaccine if they can avoid it, 69% either identify with or lean toward the Republican Party while just 13% align with the Democrats. Among those who are persuadable about the vaccine, 44% are Republicans or lean toward that party and 39% are Democrats or Democratic leaners. Among those who have already received the vaccine, 31% fall on the Republican side of the political divide and 56% are on the Democratic side.

“We have seen this trend since vaccines became available. Opposition to getting the shot will not budge without stronger and more consistent messaging from GOP leaders about taking the vaccine. However, it might be too late at this point since Republican distrust in the efficacy of Covid vaccines is abysmally low,” said Murray.

Half (50%) of the public say most of the recent decrease in Covid cases is due to the availability of vaccines. In a separate question, 23% say most of the drop is just a product of the virus running its course. In March, 20% said most of the decline then was due to the vaccines and 28% said most of it was a natural decline that would have happened without the vaccines. Among Americans who have been vaccinated, 68% attribute most of the decline in Covid cases to the vaccines while just 13% say it was mostly a natural decline. Among those who refuse to get the vaccine, just 6% attribute the decline mostly to vaccines while 55% say it was mostly the virus running its course. Among the persuadable group, 25% attribute most of the decline to the vaccines and 30% say it was mostly a natural drop.

A majority of the public expresses some level of concern about another surge happening if not enough people get vaccinated – including 26% who are very concerned and 31% who are somewhat concerned. Examining this view by vaccination status, 73% of those already vaccinated express concern about another surge, compared with 46% of the persuadable group and just 15% of those opposed.

In other poll findings, 6 in 10 Americans trust new CDC guidance on the need to wear face masks, although this is divided between 29% who have a great deal of trust and 32% who have some trust. Another 10% of the public has not much trust in the new guidance and 27% say they do not trust it at all. Those who have at least some trust in the new mask guidance include 80% of Democrats, 56% of independents, and 46% of Republicans.

Despite the new guidance, nearly 4 in 10 (38%) Americans say they are still wearing a mask about as often as they did before – including 41% of those who have been vaccinated. There are some partisan differences within this group, with vaccinated Democrats (51%) being more likely than vaccinated Republicans (23%) to wear masks with the same frequency. Another 34% of the public are wearing masks less often since the new CDC guidance was issued, while 12% have dropped mask-wearing entirely and 15% say they rarely wore masks to begin with.

Among the 1 in 10 Americans who are unvaccinated but remain open to getting the shot, 52% report maintaining their personal mask protocol, 27% are masking less often, 12% are not wearing it at all, and 9% were rarely masked prior to the new guidance. Among those who are opposed to getting the Covid vaccine, 25% are wearing masks about as often as they had been, 10% are doing so less often, and 17% have dropped mask-wearing entirely. Of course, nearly half (48%) of the anti-vax group rarely wore masks to begin with.

“Most of the public may trust the scientific aspects of the CDC guidance on mask wearing. It is not clear, though, how much they – especially those who are already vaccinated – trust their fellow Americans to abide by that guidance. The difficulty with instituting an honor system is it’s already toothless when a significant chunk of the public was disregarding the rules to begin with,” said Murray.

President Biden continues to get positive reviews for his handling of the pandemic, with 59% saying he has done a good job and 32% saying he has done a bad job. His good job rating on the issue has ranged between 57% and 62% since taking office in January. The public gives similarly high marks for how their state governors have handled Covid (58% good job and 33% bad job) and they also have a net positive opinion of how federal health agencies have dealt with the crisis (55% good job and 33% bad job). Opinion is divided on how the American public has been dealing with the outbreak – 42% good job and 40% bad job.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from June 9 to 14, 2021 with 810 adults in the United States.  The question results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.

QUESTIONS AND RESULTS     

(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)

[Q1-10 previously released.]

11.How concerned are you about someone in your family becoming seriously ill from the coronavirus outbreak – very concerned, somewhat concerned, not too concerned, or not at all concerned?

      TREND:
June
2021

March
2021

Jan.
2021

Nov.
2020
Early Sept.
2020

Aug.
2020
Late June
2020
Early June
2020

May
2020

April
2020

March
2020
  Very concerned23%40%60%50%47%41%41%37%42%50%38%
  Somewhat concerned19%28%19%25%27%28%26%32%28%33%32%
  Not too concerned24%14%12%13%13%18%17%14%14%9%18%
  Not at all concerned32%16%7%10%12%13%15%16%16%7%12%
  (VOL) Don’t know1%0%0%0%0%0%0%0%0%0%0%
  (VOL) Has already happened1%2%2%1%0%1%1%0%0%0%n/a
(n)(810)(802)(809)(810)(867)(868)(867)(807)(808)(857)(851)

12.Please tell me if each of the following has done a good job or bad job dealing with the coronavirus outbreak. [ITEMS WERE ROTATED]

       TREND:
Good Job

Bad Job
(VOL) Mixed,
depends
(VOL) Don’t
know

(n)
President Biden59%32%4%5%(810)
   — April 202162%31%3%3%(800)
   — March 202157%31%3%8%(802)
   — January 202158%23%5%15%(809)
      
Your state’s governor58%33%5%4%(810)
   — April 202162%34%3%2%(800)
   — March 202156%38%3%2%(802)
   — January 202157%38%3%2%(809)
   — Early September 202061%35%3%1%(867)
   — August 202057%35%5%3%(868)
   — Late June 202065%28%5%2%(867)
   — Early June 202067%28%3%1%(807)
   — May 202073%22%3%2%(808)
   — April 202072%21%4%3%(857)
   — March 202072%18%4%6%(851)
      
The American public42%40%14%4%(810)
   — April 202143%44%10%4%(800)
   — March 202135%53%11%1%(802)
   — January 202132%60%6%2%(809)
   — Early September 202031%57%10%2%(867)
   — August 202026%62%11%1%(868)
   — Late June 202028%59%11%3%(867)
   — Early June 202046%43%8%2%(807)
   — May 202051%33%13%2%(808)
   — April 202038%48%12%2%(857)
   — March 202038%45%14%3%(851)
      
Health agencies in the federal government55%33%6%5%(810)
   — April 2021n/an/an/an/an/a
   — March 202150%37%8%5%(802)
   — January 202152%40%6%3%(809)
   — Early September 2020n/an/an/an/an/a
   — August 202046%43%6%4%(868)
   — Late June 2020n/an/an/an/an/a
   — Early June 202057%34%5%3%(807)
   — May 202063%25%7%4%(808)
   — April 202066%25%4%4%(857)
   — March 202065%24%8%4%(851)
      

13.Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the C.D.C., issued new guidance on the need to wear face masks for vaccinated and unvaccinated people. Do you trust this guidance a great deal, some, not much, or not at all?

 June
2021
Great deal29%
Some32%
Not much10%
Not at all27%
(VOL) Don’t know2%
(n)(810)

14.Since the recent changes in C.D.C. guidance about masks, are you personally still wearing a mask about as often as you did before, are you wearing it less often now, are you not wearing it at all anymore, or did you rarely wear a face mask to begin with?

 June
2021
About as often38%
Less often34%
Not at all12%
Rarely wore one15%
(VOL) Don’t know1%
(n)(810)

15.Have you received at least one dose of Covid vaccine, or not? [If not:] Do you plan to get the Covid vaccine as soon as possible, will you continue to let other people get it first to see how it goes, or is it likely you will never get the vaccine if you can avoid it?

    TREND:June
2021
April
2021
March
2021
Jan.
2021
Already received vaccine66%51%  16%*  6%*
As soon as possible2%14%38%50%
See how it goes9%12%21%19%
Likely will never get vaccine21%21%24%24%
(VOL) Don’t know2%2%1%2%
(n)(810)(800)(802)(809)

* January/March 2021 polls did not specifically ask if person already got the vaccine, but included it as a volunteered response.

16.The number of Covid cases has been decreasing. How much of this decrease is due to the availability of vaccines – most of it, some of it, not much of it, or none of it?

    TREND:June
2021
March
2021
Most of it50%20%
Some of it26%45%
Not much of it9%18%
None of it9%12%
(VOL) Don’t know6%4%
(n)(810)(802)

17.And how much of this decrease is just a product of the virus running its course and would have happened without the vaccines – most of it, some of it, not much of it, or none of it?

    TREND:June
2021
March
2021
Most of it23%28%
Some of it31%35%
Not much of it20%19%
None of it20%13%
(VOL) Don’t know7%5%
(n)(810)(802)

18.How concerned are you about another surge happening if not enough people get vaccinated – very concerned, somewhat concerned, not too concerned, or not at all concerned?

 June
2021
Very concerned26%
Somewhat concerned31%
Not too concerned21%
Not at all concerned21%
(VOL) Don’t know1%
(n)(810)

[Q19-22 held for future release.]

[Q23-39 previously released.]

METHODOLOGY

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from June 9 to 14, 2021 with a national random sample of 810 adults age 18 and older. This includes 281 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 529 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone, in English. Telephone numbers were selected through a mix of random digit dialing and list-based sampling. Landline respondents were selected with a modified Troldahl-Carter youngest adult household screen. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. The full sample is weighted for region, age, education, gender and race based on US Census information (ACS 2018 one-year survey). Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field), Dynata (RDD sample), and Aristotle (list sample). For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design). Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)
Self-Reported
24% Republican
44% Independent
32% Democrat
 
49% Male
51% Female
 
30% 18-34
33% 35-54
38% 55+
 
63% White
12% Black
16% Hispanic
  9% Asian/Other
 
69% No degree
31% 4 year degree

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and crosstabs by key demographic groups.

Download this Poll Report with crosstabs