Majority of Americans say ‘Worst of the pandemic yet to come’

New polling data shows that Americans are once again pessimistic about the country’s future with respect to COVID-19 and the Delta variant.

The ‘worst of the pandemic is yet to come’ said the majority, 54%, of poll respondents per new Harris polling.

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This is the first time since February that more Americans feel that the worst of the pandemic is ahead of us rather than behind us. 

As vaccine availability increased, Americans showed a high confidence level, at times up to nearly 80%, that the worst of the pandemic was behind us. Confidence levels peaked in June but have drastically dropped in the face of the rise of the Delta variant and the rising number of infections.

At the beginning of July, 70% of those polled were confident that things were looking up and that the worst of the pandemic was over. Now, just a few weeks later, only 46% believe that.

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Public policy changes along with new and re-instated pandemic restrictions may be contributing to the rise in pessimism. 

In July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention backtracked on its previous statements regarding face masking, calling for masks to be worn in certain indoor settings, even for fully vaccinated people.

LA County re-instituted its indoor mask mandate in response, and many other areas have followed suit. Public debate is fraught with controversy on mask mandates in schools and on school busses for the quickly approaching school year. New York has leveled stringent restrictions on activities that the unvaccinated can participate in publicly. 

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76% of those polled said they were “very” or “somewhat” concerned about the Delta variant, compared to 24% who were “not at all” or “not too concerned.”

John Gerzema, Harris Poll CEO, said that “it’s clear we are still far from ‘Mission Accomplished’ on COVID.”

The poll is conducted weekly with up to 2,097 respondents. The poll has run from Dec. 28, 2020, to Aug. 1, 2021.

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