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Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

A year after the coronavirus abruptly shut down much of the country, Americans are watching for a clear signal of when the pandemic will be over — and most won't be ready to ditch the masks and social distancing until they get it, according to the latest installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

The big picture: The poll found that more Americans are expecting the outbreak to be over sooner rather than later, as vaccinations ramp up throughout the country — but that very few are ready to end the precautions that have upended their lives.

Driving the news: Saturday will be the anniversary of then-President Donald Trump declaring a national emergency over COVID.

  • In that time, Americans have gone from racing into lockdown to slowly re-emerging, and from wearing masks sparingly to wearing them all the time.
  • And the vast majority now know someone who has gotten the virus — and one in three knows someone who has died from it.
  • Our polls over the last year, produced in a partnership between Axios and global research firm Ipsos, show how Americans adjusted to the grim new reality — and how cautious most will be in declaring it over.

By the numbers: Just 7% of respondents said they plan to stop wearing face masks in public after they've been vaccinated, and only 13% said they plan to stop social distancing.

  • By contrast, 81% said they'll keep wearing face masks, and 66% said they'll keep social distancing, until the pandemic ends — even after they've gotten the shot.
  • 87% said they'll keep frequently washing or sanitizing their hands until the pandemic ends.

Between the lines: More Americans are expecting to return to something like their normal, pre-COVID lives in the near future. This week, 21% said they expect to do so within the next six months — up from just 15% who thought a six-month timeline seemed realistic at the beginning of February.

  • 25% of the respondents in this week's poll reported that they had gotten the vaccine, the highest share since this poll started tracking that question.
  • 36% said they expect to return to normal within the next year, roughly the same as the number who felt that way a month ago.

Yes, but: Other responses suggest people are divided on what the "all clear" signal is.

  • "People remember the start, but there's no clarity on the finish. Right now there's just murkiness," said Cliff Young, president of Ipsos U.S. Public Affairs.
  • When asked when they would start seeing friends and family outside of their household again, 9% said they would when they're vaccinated and 20% said they would do so when everyone in their immediate circle is vaccinated.
  • But 10% said they'd wait until local officials say it's safe, 11% said they'd wait until national officials say it's safe, and 20% said they didn't know. (30% said they already have.)

Flashback: The headlines from our polls over the last year capture the major events Americans have experienced, from the initial shock to the ways we've adapted:

The other side: As miserable as the past year has been, people have been able to find some personal benefits from the changes in our lives.

  • 36% say they've benefitted from spending more time at home, while 24% cited spending more time at home with family and 21% cited the slower pace of their lives.
  • And 33% said they've benefitted from spending less money, or saving more of it.

Methodology: This Axios/Ipsos Poll was conducted March 5-8 by Ipsos' KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,001 general population adults age 18 or older.

  • The margin of sampling error is ±3.2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults.

Go deeper

Chauvin trial leaves cities, activists across America on edge

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The impact of the Derek Chauvin trial is reverberating far beyond the walls of the downtown Minneapolis courtroom.

The state of play: With the trial set to enter its third week, activists across America are watching the proceedings unfold with heavy skepticism that what they perceive as justice will be served.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
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It's a discouraging scene: Bidding wars, soaring prices, and fears that homeownership is becoming out of reach for millions of Americans. We're in a housing frenzy, driven by a massive shortage of inventory — and no one seems to be happy about it.

Why it matters: Not all bubbles burst. Real estate, in particular, tends to rise in value much more easily than it falls. Besides, says National Association of Realtors chief economist Lawrence Yun, this "is not a bubble. It is simply lack of supply."

Updated 5 hours ago - World

China's COVID vaccines have low efficacy rates, official says

China Centers for Disease Control director Gao Fu at a March event in Beijing, China. Photo: Han Haidan/China News Service via Getty Images

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention's director said Saturday authorities are considering mixing COVID-19 vaccines because the country's domestically made doses "don't have very high protection rates," per AP.

Why it matters: The remarks by the Gao Fu at a news conference in the southwestern city of Chengdumark mark the first time a Chinese health official has spoken publicly about the low efficacy of vaccines made in China.