Bring Back Masks & Social Distancing, Majority Of Americans Say In New Poll

Older man is seen wearing a protective face mask.
Gettyimages | Christopher Furlong
News & Politics

In late 2020, Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine hit the market. Other pharmaceutical companies soon followed with their own vaccines, making it seem like the end of the pandemic was finally in sight.

However, the rapid spread this summer of the highly-contagious Delta variant -- which can evade antibodies from vaccines and infections -- has caused an increase in cases, hospitalizations and deaths, reigniting fear.

According to a new poll from Monmouth University that was released Monday, a majority of Americans are concerned about coronavirus and support bringing back masking and social distancing guidelines.

Key Findings

Fifty-three percent of respondents in the poll said they were at least somewhat concerned about a family member becoming seriously ill from COVID-19.

Furthermore, 48 percent said they were at least somewhat concerned about catching one of the new variants. Notably, of those who have received at least one dose of the vaccine, 57 percent said they are worried about catching COVID-19. Only 16 percent of those who refuse to get vaccinated said they were concerned about contracting the virus.

"Many, if not most, anti-vaxxers believe COVID is a hoax or they are unlikely to get infected. Which means there may be very little that can be done at this point to change their minds," explained Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Masks

A slight majority of respondents, 52 percent of them, said they support reinstituting face mask and social distancing guidelines in their state. Another 46 percent said the opposite.

On this issue, like on most other pandemic-related issues, Americans seem to be sharply divided along partisan lines: 85 percent of Democrats support bringing back guidelines while 73 percent of Republicans oppose the move.

Notably, the poll was conducted before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officially reversed course and announced new face mask guidelines.

Trust In Institutions

Public health agencies are doing a good job handling the pandemic, according to 57 percent of respondents. However, 59 percent said that the government has been giving mixed messages on mitigation strategies.

As Murray explained, messaging from CDC and other bodies has evidently "not been clear."

"I think Americans acknowledge that the CDC and other health agencies have to deal with a lot of uncertainty. Still, it is tough for the average person to understand the flip from masks being optional to being necessary again."

Other Findings

President Joe Biden speaks at a news conference.
Gettyimages | Alex Wong

Only 32 percent of respondents said the American public is doing a good job handling COVID-19. Last month, 42 percent answer this question affirmatively.

Notably, the number of those who are very concerned about another COVID-19 surge has increased from 26 percent in June to 44 today.

As for the nation's leading politicians, 55 percent of respondents said President Joe Biden is doing a good job handling the pandemic, while 42 percent said the opposite.

State governors received similar marks, with 54 percent saying they are doing a good job and 42 percent saying the opposite.