NJ poll says half of U.S. feels COVID pandemic ‘will never be over’
In response to a televised comment from President Joe Biden in September saying that the COVID-19 pandemic "is over" across America, just over 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. would agree with that statement, according to the latest release from the Monmouth University Polling Institute.
The 21% who agreed with Biden pale in comparison to the 26% who said the pandemic "will end eventually," but especially the 50% who said it "will never be over."
Where there may be great agreement with Biden is in the sentiment that Americans must just learn to deal and live with COVID from this point forward, according to poll director Patrick Murray.
"When you look at what else the president said, when he was talking about that, was really about our day-to-day life, the fact that we're not wearing masks anymore. I think when you look at it that way, most of the public is really with him on that kind of idea," Murray said.
Minority of respondents still favor mandates
The percentages of people who currently support workplace vaccine (35%) or overall mask (25%) mandates have both gone down seven points since May, and have dwindled from 53% and 63%, respectively, one year ago.
That was just before the omicron variant overtook the world and dominated the winter of 2021-22 in the United States, driving case numbers to levels never before seen in the health crisis and hospitalizations near their peaks at the outset of the virus' spread in spring 2020.
Since then, Murray said the gap in COVID diagnoses between the unvaccinated and the vaccinated has all but disappeared, with 46% telling Monmouth they had had at least one vaccine dose before getting COVID, and 49% saying they had not gotten any.
"I think that this is a sign that people say, 'Yep, we know it's here, we know that we're going to have to deal with COVID, let's just get on with our lives,'" he said.
Little support for omicron-specific booster
That's reflected in Americans' attitudes toward the updated, omicron-specific boosters rolled out in early September.
And splitting the responses along party lines, even Democrats (64%) are less supportive of getting the new formula than the old booster (80%). Republicans are down to 12% in favor of the new booster, versus 33% for the original booster campaign.
Murray said that's an ominous sign for health messaging across the country heading into the winter, a time when cases spiked each of the last two years.
"About three-quarters of American adults got the initial vaccine, but only half got a booster, and what we're looking at with our numbers is only about a third are likely to get this new booster," he said. "I think what's happened here is people are saying, 'I'm going to get it anyway, so why bother getting this shot all the time?' And so I think public health officials have a lot of work ahead of them."