Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The pandemic may not be over, but Americans are over the pandemic — and it's starting to show in our collective willingness to cooperate with public health guidance.

Why it matters: Over the last several weeks, the Delta variant dashed hopes of getting back to normal at a time when our patience for safety measures — and sometimes, each other — is already wearing thin.

What they're saying: "I certainly feel it, myself," said Anthony Santella, director of the doctorate of health sciences program for the University of New Haven School of Health Sciences.

  • "Unfortunately, it's not just a feeling. It's impacting people's health behaviors," said Santella, the university's COVID coordinator. "It'd be one thing if this fatigue and burden didn't have an impact on the pandemic, but it clearly does."

The big picture: Public health measures often rely on people doing what's best for the collective good. For instance, the CDC asked unvaccinated Americans to avoid traveling this Labor Day weekend — and suggested the vaccinated still take precautions.

Yes, but: That's getting harder.

  • Politics around the response become more entrenched — sparking sometimes violent fights over mask mandates in schools and in industries like air travel.
  • As the pandemic closes in on its second year, experts say COVID fatigue is becoming more widespread. It's causing many people to stop taking precautions, like proper hand hygiene or social distancing, or assessing risk the way they once did.
  • "People have let down their guard. There's a whole segment of the population that believes the pandemic is over," said Leana Wen, an emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University.

What's happening: One of the big problems is our expectations — and how often they've been forced to shift.

  • Most people were sent home in March 2020 expecting to be back in a couple of weeks.
  • In the spring of 2021, the CDC announced the vaccinated could remove their masks. Then, at the end of July, scientists began telling the vaccinated to start using masks again as new data showed they could transmit the virus and hospitalizations began to skyrocket among the unvaccinated due to Delta.
  • "For a lot of us, the hope was that this summer would be a good one and we would be entering the fall with a low level of infection," Wen said.

By the numbers: It's taken a hit on our collective psyche. The share of Americans who say they feel hopeful right now has plummeted to 34%, from 48% in March, according to the latest installment of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

But, but, but: The number of Americans saying they feel motivated, energized, inspired or resilient has risen by at least as much.

  • That suggests that, rather than giving up, these Americans are reassessing their expectations about how quick a fix the first generation of vaccines alone can be— and resolving to do what it takes over the long haul.

The big picture: "We are in a very confusing time in the pandemic where people are making very different choices depending on their own family circumstances, their risk tolerance, as well as the activities that are most important to them," Wen said. "It makes navigating life very challenging and leads to individuals questioning one another for the choices they're making."

  • The way she thinks about it is, if you are vaccinated, you should be able to make the choices that make sense for you.

The bottom line: We may all need to take a step back and reassess our expectations for how long it may take to get back to normal — and understand that timeline may change based on how much we're all willing to do to get there.

Go deeper

21 hours ago - Health

Retail sales increase despite low expectations from Delta

Data: FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals

Consumers defied expectations and shopped at an increasing rate amid a resurgence in COVID-19 cases.

Why it matters: Several measures of consumer confidence fell sharply in August, suggesting consumer spending could fall during the month. In fact, concerns about the Delta variant's impact on the economy had prominent Wall Street economists cutting their expectations for Q3 GDP growth.

12 hours ago - Health

FDA advisory panel recommends Pfizer boosters for those 65 and older

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Key Biscayne Community Center on Aug. 24, 2021. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday overwhelmingly voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, but unanimously recommended approving the third shots for individuals 65 and older, as well as those at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: While the votes are non-binding, and the FDA must still make a final decision, Friday's move pours cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine later this month.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
20 hours ago - Health

Key FDA committee takes on the big booster question

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A key FDA advisory committee is meeting today to discuss Pfizer's proposal for a COVID vaccine booster — but it will set the stage for the entire booster debate.

The big question: Not only whether experts believe there’s enough evidence to support boosters, but also whether they believe additional shots should be made available for everyone or limited to older Americans and the immunocompromised.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!