Story at a glance

  • Data from the Pew Research Center shows that 54 percent of Americans believe the worst is yet to come with COVID-19.
  • This feeling is slightly split along partisan lines, with Republicans more optimistic than Democrats.
  • Vaccination rates in the U.S. have largely stalled as regulators work to approve booster shots.

The American public has lived with the COVID-19 pandemic for over a year now, and new national data suggests that a majority of 54 percent still think the worst of the virus is still yet to come. 

New data from the Pew Research Center highlights a bleak outlook surrounding the pandemic among most Americans, despite more known about the virus and vaccines that are readily available. 

This pessimistic sentiment has fallen from higher levels seen in November of 2020, when 71 percent believed that the worst of COVID-19 had yet to hit the U.S. This was during the record-breaking winter outbreaks of the virus, and prior to the resurgence seen this past summer with the onset of the delta variant.

Like other topics, the sentiment expressed about the state of COVID-19 in America is largely partisan; more Republicans feel that the country has a better handle on the virus, with 53 percent feeling another major outbreak looms around the corner.

In contrast, 59 percent of Democrats believe the U.S. is destined for yet another surge.

The same trends exist among people based on their vaccination status. Fifty-six percent of unvaccinated adults feel the worst is still yet to come as opposed to 53 percent of vaccinated individuals who feel the same. 

Other topics polled in the latest Pew survey include reactions to vaccinations, public health restrictions, and elected official approval ratings. Most of these are similarly split along party lines.

This data comes as U.S. regulators are working on approving booster vaccinations to help support immunity as the nation continues to fight COVID-19. Vaccines for children are also in development by drug manufacturers, namely Pfizer, as schools reopen and more children are getting sick with delta-driven infections.

Just 54.6 percent of Americans have been fully vaccinated, per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a number that the U.S. has stalled at for several months. President Biden has recently implemented larger mandates requiring federal employees to get vaccinated or be subject to weekly tests, and is consulting with major companies on vaccine mandates in the private sector to help build the country’s immunity. 

Published on Sep 15, 2021