Story at a glance
- Roughly 19 percent of Americans reported losing a close relative or loved one to COVID-19.
- As states relax restrictions, a majority of respondents support wearing face masks.
Upon the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down life in the U.S., new national data suggests that 19 percent, or roughly 1 in 5 Americans, have lost a close friend or relative due to a COVID-19 infection.
The data, compiled by The Associated Press (AP) and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, was collected from 1,434 respondents in both online and telephone surveys. Of this sample, roughly 66 percent of the U.S. public believes fellow Americans have not taken the pandemic seriously enough — an opinion reflected in other recent surveys.
Given that a substantial portion of the population reports having lost a loved one to the virus, the poll reports “strong” support for mandatory face masks; about 69 percent said they support mandating that Americans wear face masks outside of their homes.
This is also split by party lines, with more Democrat-identifying respondents feeling Americans and people across the world have largely underestimated the severity of the virus.
Diligent public health messaging has helped face masks gain popularity, with 82 percent of volunteers saying that they wear a face covering in public spaces outside their homes either “always” or “often.”
Avoiding large groups of people is also a popular mitigation strategy, followed by avoiding nonessential travel and avoiding other people.
Thanks to improved vaccine distribution and circulation, however, fewer Americans are concerned about contracting a COVID-19 infection. Thirty-one percent reported being “very” or “extremely” worried about testing positive, the lowest figure recorded since February of 2020, just before mass lockdowns began.
A plurality of people seem to be receptive toward getting vaccinated when it is available to them, with 30 percent telling surveyors that they “definitely will” get vaccinated. About 22 percent of respondents reported already having been inoculated, and another 17 percent said they will “probably” get vaccinated when the time comes.
Small populations still express vaccine hesitancy; 15 percent of Americans say that they “probably will not” or “definitely will not” get vaccinated.
Among people who are least excited about the COVID-19 vaccine are Americans 18-29 years old. Independents are the political party that boasts the most number of affiliates who definitely do not want a vaccine, with a 25 percent unwilling to get it. This figure is larger than both Democrat and Republican respondents, with 5 and 23 percent, respectfully, stating they will not receive the vaccine.
Potentially feeding into distrust with the vaccine is a lack of information surrounding them; roughly 25 percent of the public reports finding it difficult to access factual information about COVID-19 vaccines.