Most in new poll say they didn’t take COVID precautions before vacations

FILE – A sign asks those getting vaccinated to keep 6 feet apart during the vaccination event, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, at Nevada Union High School in Grass Valley, Calif. The CDC has again revised its COVID guidelines, further relaxing quarantine recommendations and dropping the recommendation that people stay at least 6 feet away from each other. (Elias Funez/The Union via AP, File)

Few Americans who reported taking a vacation in the past three months took extra steps to avoid a COVID-19 infection prior to their trip, according to a new Axios-Ipsos poll.

The poll found that exactly half of the respondents reported taking a vacation or trip in the past three months.

Of those respondents, 24 percent said they wore a mask indoors more frequently before the trip. Twenty-seven percent said they limited dining and other indoor events, while 22 percent said they limited seeing people outside of their household before their trips.

Nearly half of respondents — 45 percent — said they washed their hands more frequently before their vacations, and roughly a quarter — 26 percent — said they took an at-home COVID-19 test. About 17 percent said they worked from home more frequently.

Most respondents said taking a vacation does not pose a major risk to their health or well-being. Just 11 percent said doing so poses a large risk, while more than half said it poses a small or no risk.

Air travel has surged in recent months to the highest level seen since the start of the pandemic. More than 2 million passengers are passing through the nation’s airports on an average day, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

Reported COVID-19 cases have declined in recent days after peaking at roughly 130,000 daily cases in mid-July, although the true count is likely larger due to at-home positive test results that aren’t reported to health authorities.

The BA.5 omicron subvariant, which is believed to be more evasive of protections offered by vaccination and past infections, now dominates the U.S., accounting for nearly 90 percent of current cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Meanwhile, the poll found the number who said they were socially distancing remained at an all-time low of 29 percent, and only 1 in 5 said they canceled or skipped large gatherings.

Just prior to the poll, CDC relaxed its public health guidance and said Americans no longer need to stay at least six feet away from others.

The survey was conducted between Aug. 12 and Aug. 15 using an online panel representative of the adult U.S. population, and pollsters interviewed 1,047 Americans, including 514 who reported taking a recent vacation or trip. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

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