6 in 10 say federal agencies giving mixed messages about COVID-19 risks: poll

6 in 10 say federal agencies giving mixed messages about COVID-19 risks: poll
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Nearly 6 in 10 Americans in a new poll said federal health agencies have been giving mixed messages about risks associated with COVID-19.

The survey, conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute, found that 59 percent of respondents think federal health agencies, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have not been clear on their messaging regarding COVID-19 risks.

Thirty-nine percent of those surveyed said the agencies have been largely consistent in their communication.

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The poll was conducted before the CDC released new guidance last week that said fully vaccinated people should wear a mask in certain indoor areas, which reversed a May announcement from the agency that said fully inoculated individuals could nix face coverings indoors.

Health officials for some time have said shifts to policies and guidance are triggered by changes in the science, particularly when defending their decisions to the public.

CDC Director Rochelle WalenskyRochelle WalenskyFDA panel endorses COVID-19 booster shots for older Americans, rejects widespread use Watch live: White House COVID-19 response team holds briefing The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Tight security for Capitol rally; Biden agenda slows MORE last week, when announcing the new guidance on masks, said “this new science is worrisome and unfortunately warrants an update to our recommendations.”

Fifty-seven percent of those polled said the federal health agencies are doing a good job of dealing with the pandemic, while 33 percent said the groups were doing a bad job.

When surveying the mask mandate before the new CDC guidance, the Monmouth poll found that 52 percent of respondents were at least somewhat supportive of mask or social distancing guidelines being instituted in their states, while 46 percent were opposed.

The partisan split on that question was significant: 85 percent of Democrats polled said they support reinstating guidelines while 73 percent of Republicans said they were against any such measures. Independents polled were split, with 42 percent in support and 55 percent opposed.

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Concern about a family member contracting COVID-19 spiked last month after decreasing to its lowest level in June. The poll found that 53 percent of those polled were at least somewhat concerned about a family member getting seriously sick from COVID-19, compared to the pandemic-era low of 42 percent tracked in June. The current percentage, however, is still lower than all previous results, which ranged from 67 percent to 83 percent.

The spike in concern regarding COVID-19 comes as cases are increasing, largely driven by the highly infectious delta variant which has become the dominant strain in the U.S.

The country’s vaccination effort has also slowed down, particularly as officials are struggling to convince the vaccine-hesitant to get inoculated.

The poll surveyed 804 adults in the U.S. between July 21-26. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.