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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

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

J&J says its one-shot vaccine is 66% effective against moderate to severe COVID

Photo: Thiago Prudêncio/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson announced Friday that its single-shot coronavirus vaccine was 66% effective in protecting against moderate to severe COVID-19 disease in Phase 3 trials, which was comprised of nearly 44,000 participants across eight countries.

Between the lines: The vaccine was 72% effective in the U.S., but only 57% effective in South Africa, where a more contagious variant has been spreading. It prevented 85% of severe infections and 100% of hospitalizations and deaths, according to the company.

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

WHO says most pregnant women can now receive coronavirus vaccine

A doctor administering Moderna's coronavirus vaccine at a university hospital in Essen, Germany, on Jan. 18. Photo: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images

The World Health Organization has altered its guidance for pregnant women who wish to receive the coronavirus vaccine, saying now that those at high risk of exposure to the COVID-19 or who have comorbidities that increase their risk of severe disease, may be vaccinated.

Why it matters: The WHO drew backlash for its previous guidance that did not recommend pregnant women be inoculated with vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, even though data indicated that pregnancy increased the risk of developing severe illness from the virus.

Updated Jul 28, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios