Mar 15, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Axios-Ipsos poll: Americans ditch masks, gain confidence

Percentage of Americans who…
Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Americans' emotional and physical health is bouncing back, along with record confidence about life returning to "normal" as mask mandates are abandoned, according to the latest installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

The big picture: Two years after the start of the pandemic, the nation is ready to move on, even as disinformation at home and a resurgence of cases in Europe driven by the B.A.2 variant point to challenges on the horizon.

  • 64% of survey respondents now favor federal, state and local governments lifting all COVID-19 restrictions, up 20 percentage points since early February.
  • But three in four say they'd go back to masking if infections increase again where they live.

What they're saying: "As the mandates ended, behaviors changed across the board," said Cliff Young, president of Ipsos U.S. Public Affairs. "The mandate itself was signaling risk, and as the mandate went down that signal went dormant."

By the numbers: Just 27% of those surveyed said state or local government mask mandates were still in place where they live, down from 36% at the end of February and 42% at the start of the year.

  • 39% of those who work said their employers were still requiring them to wear masks in the workplace, down from 52% at the end of last month and 60% at the start of the year.
  • Now, 83% of respondents describe their physical health as good and 84% say their state of emotional well-being is good, the highest shares for both since May 2020.
  • 75% said the country is moving toward a time when COVID won't interrupt daily life, up from 66% last month.

Between the lines: 56% of Americans still say coronavirus can't be eradicated in the U.S. within the next year. And 61% say they're still worried about the possibility of getting sick — a clear majority, even though it's the lowest share in our surveys since April 2020.

  • But just one in three says returning to pre-COVID life now would present a large or moderate risk, down from four in 10 last month and six in 10 at the start of the year.
  • One in three says they've already returned to normal life, a survey high.
  • Just 4% see a large risk in working indoors in an office, a survey low, while 29% see no risk at all, a survey high.

But, but, but: "While we're definitely seeing this movement toward opening up, public understanding of what's going on is still not super-duper strong," cautioned Ipsos pollster and senior vice president Chris Jackson.

  • Only one in three respondents were aware that more than 1,000 people in the U.S. each day are still dying from the virus.
  • Less than half knew that far more people have died from the virus than have experienced negative effects from the vaccine.
  • And more than one in five either said "true" or "don't know" when asked whether they believe microchips were implanted via the vaccine to track recipients.

The bottom line: 48% of survey respondents said "hopeful" describes the way they feel today — the highest share since this time last year when vaccines were becoming broadly available.

Methodology: This Axios/Ipsos Poll was conducted March 11-14 by Ipsos' KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 957 general population adults age 18 or older.

  • The margin of sampling error is ±3.5 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults.
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