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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

Brazil's health minister tests positive for COVID during UN summit in N.Y.

President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro (L) and Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga in Brasilia, Brazil, in May. Photo: Andressa Anholete/Getty Images

Brazil's Health Minister Marcelo Queirog has tested positive for COVID-19 while in New York City for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), he confirmed Tuesday night.

Why it matters: Hours earlier, Queirog had accompanied Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to the UNGA. The Biden administration expressed concern last week that the gathering of world leaders could become a coronavirus "superspreader event."

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump sues New York Times and his niece over tax report

Former President Trump hosting a boxing match in Hollywood, Florida on Sept. 11. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Trump filed a $100 million lawsuit against the New York Times and his niece Mary Trump on Tuesday over the news outlet's 2018 reporting on his tax records, the Daily Beast first reported.

Details: The suit, filed in New York's Dutchess County, alleges NYT journalists "engaged in an insidious plot to obtain confidential and highly-sensitive records" and that they "convinced" Mary Trump to "smuggle records out of her attorney's office and turn them over to The Times."

House passes government funding, debt ceiling bill

Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

The House passed a bill on Tuesday to fund the government through early December, along with a measure to raise the debt ceiling through December 2022.

Why it matters: The stopgap measure, which needs to be passed to avoid a government shutdown when funding expires on Sept. 30, faces a difficult journey in the Senate where at least ten Republicans would need to vote in favor.