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Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note: ±3.1% margin of error for November poll, ±3.3% for October; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The nationwide surge in coronavirus infections is prompting some Americans to take high-risk behaviors more seriously, according to the latest installment of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: Our latest survey shows that more people — and more Republicans, in particular — are attuned to the risks of indoor activities. That’s a positive sign, if the U.S. has any hope of getting this latest outbreak under control.

By the numbers: 39% of Americans say attending indoor gatherings of family and friends would be highly risky — up from 28% in our last survey, conducted about three weeks ago.

  • Similarly, there was an 11-point jump in the number of people who said dining inside a restaurant is high-risk.

Between the lines: Our survey has consistently found that Republicans are less concerned about the coronavirus, by almost any measure. But Republicans and Independents are beginning to come around on the risk of indoor dining and socializing, and that’s what’s driving the overall increase in risk perception.

  • Over 80% of Democrats already thought those activities were high-risk in our last survey; they didn’t have much room to grow.
  • But 52% of Republicans now see in-person gatherings as risky, up from 40% in late October.
  • The share of Republicans who see indoor dining as risky rose by 8 percentage points, from 37% to 45%. Among Independents, the jump was 9 points.

Our thought bubble: Americans’ risk perceptions are becoming more accurate, and that’s a necessary first step toward ultimately getting this pandemic under control.

  • The virus spreads more easily indoors, where it can hang in the air. Social distancing is often harder indoors. And it’s impossible to wear a mask while eating, adding an extra layer of risk to indoor dining.

There are some indications that people are adapting their behavior, too..

  • 39% of Americans in the most recent survey said they had visited friends or family in the past week — a 10% drop from our late-October poll.
  • Going out to eat, however, held steady at about 40%.
  • 45% said they're planning to celebrate this holiday season only with their immediate households, compared to 17% who said they would see family and friends like they normally do.

Our latest survey also captured small but potentially meaningful shifts in employment trends, with modest increases in the number of people who say they’ve been temporarily furloughed or begun working from home, and in the number who said their employers have shut down altogether.

What’s next: Americans remain optimistic about a vaccine, the survey shows.

  • The most recent poll was conducted after Pfizer announced that its vaccine candidate was 90% effective, and before Moderna’s announcement yesterday that its candidate was nearly 95% effective.
  • A strong majority in our poll — 61% — said they would take a first-generation vaccine that was at least 90% effective. Respondents have consistently prioritized ensuring that a vaccine is safe over being able to get it quickly.

Methodology: This Axios/Ipsos Poll was conducted Nov. 13-16 by Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel® among a nationally representative sample of 1,092 adults. It has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points.

Go deeper

Nov 29, 2020 - Sports

Broncos and 49ers the latest NFL teams impacted by coronavirus crisis

From left, Denver Broncos quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Jeff Driskel during an August training session at UCHealth Training Center in Englewood, Colorado. Photo: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the NFL season into chaos, with all Denver Broncos quarterbacks sidelined, the San Francisco 49ers left without a home or practice ground, and much of the Baltimore Ravens team unavailable, per AP.

Driving the news: The Broncos confirmed in a statement Saturday night that quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles were identified as "high-risk COVID-19 close contacts" and will follow the NFL's mandatory five-day quarantine, making them ineligible for Sunday's game against New Orleans.

Nov 29, 2020 - Health

Fauci warns Thanksgiving travel will likely make COVID-19 surge worse

NIAID director Anthony Fauci warned on Sunday that the U.S. could see in the coming weeks "a surge superimposed upon that surge that we're already in," as COVID-19 cases are expected to rise after many Americans traveled for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Why it matters: Cases and hospitalizations are already skyrocketing nationwide. Governors and health departments in some states have warned that the increase in cases could overwhelm hospital systems.

Nov 29, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Colorado governor and partner test positive for coronavirus

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis. Photo: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) tweeted Saturday night that he and his partner, Marlon Reis, tested positive for COVID-19.

The big picture: He said they're both "asymptomatic, feeling well, and will continue to isolate at home." On Nov. 9, Polis extended a 30-day mask mandate to combat a rise in cases. The state has confirmed 225,283 coronavirus infections since the pandemic began. Since September, the governors of Wyoming, Nevada, Virginia and Missouri have also tested positive for the virus.