Aug 16, 2022 - Health

Axios-Ipsos poll: Vacations trump COVID worries

COVID-19 precautions Americans say they took ahead of travel
Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Americans aren't taking steps to avoid COVID-19 before going on vacation and have no bandwidth for another health crisis like monkeypox, according to the latest installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: Our perception of personal risk has fallen to a point where travelers' most common precaution is just to wash or sanitize their hands more frequently — and fewer than half even do that.

  • The poll findings nonetheless suggest a third of Americans are very or somewhat familiar with "rebound" cases of COVID in people who've taken Pfizer's antiviral treatment Paxlovid.
  • Less than half said they were concerned about the monkeypox outbreak, and 64% said they're unlikely to get the monkeypox vaccine.
  • "We're dealing with the scar tissue of the pandemic," said Cliff Young, president of Ipsos U.S. Public Affairs. "Public opinion has been beaten down, and many people don't know if it's just easier to go on without taking extra precautions."

By the numbers: Half of the 1,047 adults interviewed said they'd gone on vacation or taken trips to see family or friends in the past three months.

  • More than seven in 10 said they didn't take precautions like wearing masks or limiting socializing to reduce the risk of getting COVID-19 before vacation.
  • 37% said there was some or a lot of risk involved in returning to their pre-pandemic life, compared to 53% a year ago.

Between the lines: The findings show a continuing bifurcation in which roughly one quarter of Americans remain aware of the course of the pandemic and take steps like masking most of the time and limiting indoor dining.

  • That subset tends to lean Democratic and is already vaccinated.
  • 80% of the group said they'd be willing to get reformulated boosters that provide better protection against new variants, like Omicron.

In contrast, roughly two out of three people say they're seeing people outside of their households, dining out and going shopping.

  • Social distancing is at an all-time low, with only 29% saying they've stayed at home and avoided others as much as possible in the past week.
  • Slightly more people say they trust President Biden to provide them with accurate information on COVID-19 than two months ago (43% vs. 39%).
  • "People are going about their daily lives, but COVID is still lingering," Young said. "There's always that specter in the background."

What to watch: The findings also suggest that while 53% say they've heard about the monkeypox outbreak, the public largely views it as a problem affecting others.

  • Democrats and people living in cities appear more concerned and willing to get vaccines.

Methodology: This Axios/Ipsos Poll was conducted Aug. 12-15 by Ipsos' KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,047 general population adults age 18 or older.

  • The margin of sampling error is ±3.4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults.
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