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Data: Axios/Ipsos Poll; Note: 3.2% margin of error; Chart: Axios Visuals

Americans are taking off their masks and re-engaging publicly at levels not seen since the start of the pandemic, with the most dramatic shifts in people over 50 and those who've been vaccinated, according to the latest installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

The big picture: It's happening despite significant distrust over strangers' honesty about their COVID-19 vaccination status and amid major confusion over Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on mask use and social distancing for those vaccinated.

  • About one in five respondents said the CDC has been "very clear" in its updated guidance. Half said it's "somewhat clear," while nearly one in three said it's not clear.

What they're saying: "It's one of two things," said Cliff Young, president of Ipsos U.S. public affairs. "You're vaccinated, your family's vaccinated, so what do you have to worry about? Or, you just don't care, you weren't that worried before and you're not that worried now."

The intrigue: The poll asked respondents how much they trusted various groups of people to be honest about their about their COVID-19 status.

  • Respondents were most likely to say they have a great or fair amount of trust in family and friends (88%) or coworkers (71%).
  • They were less likely to trust people outside of their close circles (38%) and even less likely to trust people at sporting events or concerts (25%), indoor restaurants and bars (25%) and airports (24%).
  • Party ID affected trust. Republicans were more likely than Democrats to say they trust others to be honest about their vaccination status.
  • This disparity was the sharpest on trusting people who are opposed to taking the vaccine: 31% of the overall respondents said they did, including 47% of Republicans but just 19% of Democrats.

By the numbers: Just 45% of respondents now say they're wearing a mask at all times when they leave their homes, and 32% say they're keeping six feet of distance from others at all times — the lowest shares for both in more than a year.

  • Among those who've been vaccinated, 47% say they're still wearing a mask at all times outside the home, a steep drop from 65% two weeks ago.
  • 41% of those 65 and older are wearing a mask at all times, down from 62% two weeks ago; and 41% of those ages 5o-64 are wearing a mask at all times, down from 56%.
  • 32% of vaccinated people are maintaining six feet distance at all times, down from 44%.
  • 25% of people 65 and older are social distancing at all times, down from 35%; among those 50-64, 31% are social distancing at all times, down from 46%.

Methodology: This Axios/Ipsos Poll was conducted May 21-24 by Ipsos' KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,102 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

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers — U.S. on the lookout for Omicron casesFDA panel backs Merck's antiviral COVID pill.
  2. Politics: Biden says fight against Omicron won't include "shutdowns or lockdowns" — Two federal judges temporarily block Biden vaccine mandates.
  3. Vaccines: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Pentagon denies Oklahoma National Guard request for exemption from vaccine mandate.
  4. World: Omicron variant detected in more countriesWHO advises people 60 or older to postpone travel due to Omicron — COVID-19 "radically altered mobility" globally, UN says.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Updated Sep 1, 2021 - Health

COVID-19 hospitalizations among 30- to 39-year-olds hit record high

Emergency Room nurses tend to patients in a hallway at the Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital on August 18, 2021 in Houston, Texas. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Hospitalizations from COVID-19 for people in their 30s hit a record high this week, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: Adults from ages 30 to 39 largely avoided hospitalizations from coronavirus during the early phases of the pandemic, but lagging vaccination numbers and highly active lives are driving hospitalizations in the age group, per the Journal.

Sep 1, 2021 - Health

Texas school temporarily closes after two teachers die from COVID-19 in a week

American and Texas state flag. Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A school in Texas closed for the rest of the week on Tuesday after two teachers died from COVID-19 within a week, the Waco Tribune-Herald reports.

State of play: The campus at Connally Junior High School won't open until after Labor Day for deep sanitation, after sixth-grade social studies teacher Natalia Chansler died on Aug. 28, having notified the school three days earlier that she tested positive for COVID-19.