Public Divided On Return To Normalcy Amid Coronavirus Pandemic, Poll Shows

Pedestrians walk by graffiti encouraging the wearing of masks.
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As states across the nation seek to gradually loosen the measures imposed to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, Americans are becoming increasingly polarized over when to resume normal activities, according to a Gallup poll released on Thursday.

According to the poll, 21 percent of Americans say they want to return to normal “right now” and 36 percent say they would be willing to resume normal activity once the number of COVID-19 cases in their state declines. Thirty-one percent would be willing to go back to normalcy once there are no new cases in their state. Only 12 percent say they want to wait for a vaccine.

Notably, since early April, the percentage of those who want to return to normal day-to-day activities right now has increased eight points. The percentage of those who want to wait for a vaccine has gone up five points, which suggests that “each of the two absolutist camps has expanded” since earlier this month.

The poll suggests that Americans are divided along party lines. Forty-four percent of Republicans want to return to normal immediately, which marks a sharp increase of 19 percent since earlier this month. Among independent voters, 22 percent say they are ready to go back to their usual lives right away. Just 4 percent of those who identify with the Democratic Party wants to resume their normal activities right now.

Middle-aged Americans are much more willing to go back to regular activity right away than senior citizens and young adults. Twenty-nine percent of those aged 45 to 64 say they want such activities to resume immediately, but only 17 percent of young adults and 18 percent of seniors agree.

The survey also suggests that there is a divide between rural and urban America, with 28 percent of those in rural areas saying they want to resume normal social interactions. Only 15 percent of Americans living in urban areas say they want the same. Eighteen percent of suburbanites agree.

“Americans’ current feelings about when and how they are willing to return to their usual activities are speculative at the moment, as state and federal governments are still assessing the trajectories of the coronavirus outbreak.”

“Americans’ varied ideas about the timing of a return to normalcy illustrate the competing narratives emerging of caution versus immediacy, and the murkiness of which approach leaders and Americans themselves should emphasize,” Gallup added.

Those who would prefer to wait until there is a vaccine would have to wait at least seven months or so, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a key member of President Donald Trump‘s coronavirus task force, said on Thursday that a vaccine could be available in January.