A new poll indicates Americans don’t like their government or each other. Two years into the pandemic, nearly half of U.S. residents (43%) say they feel “worse” about their “fellow Americans,” according to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll. Just 10% say they feel “better.”
As Omicron recedes and most Americans seem eager to move on, it’s easy to lose sight of the staggering personal toll COVID-19 has taken. But the new survey shows that almost no one in the United States has emerged unscathed. The article states: “The poll of 1,623 U.S. adults, which was conducted from March 10 to 14, found that more than 3 in 4 (76%) say they know someone personally — friends, family or themselves — who has been infected with the coronavirus. More than a third (37%) say they know someone who has been hospitalized for COVID; more than a quarter (27%) say they know someone who died from the disease.”
The report on the poll continues: “The political, social and psychological impact of the pandemic, meanwhile, has been just as extensive. Only 14% of Americans say they’re “better off” now than before the pandemic; more than twice as many (35%) say they’re “worse off.” Two years later, the numbers for how Americans feel about the federal government (44% worse, 16% better), their own state and local governments (34% worse, 17% better) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (36% worse, 22% better) are similarly negative. As the Atlantic’s Ed Yong recently reported, “U.S. life expectancy fell by two years [in 2020 and 2021] — the largest such decline in almost a century.
Couple that kind of incalculable loss with the political division that’s marked this pandemic almost since the beginning, and it’s clearly a recipe for deep and lasting ripple effects. Still, seeing them quantified is sobering. The report continues: “As with everything in American life, partisanship plays a role here. Republicans in particular seem to have soured the most on public health and institutions, with more saying they have come to feel worse rather than better about the federal government (66% worse, 9% better), the CDC (52% worse, 18% better), public health officials (46% worse, 19% better), their own state and local governments (41% worse, 16% better) and even vaccines (40% worse, 19% better).”
(This is despite the fact that COVID vaccines prevented about 1.1 million deaths and 10.3 million hospitalizations in the U.S. through the end of November 2021, according to estimates by the health care foundation the Commonwealth Fund.)
Democrats are the opposite: More say the pandemic has made them feel better rather than worse about vaccines (52% better, 8% worse), public health officials (46% better, 12% worse) and the CDC (37% better, 16% worse). But they are far more likely than Republicans to say they feel worse about their “fellow Americans” (49%) than better (9%).
Republicans are also far more likely to say they are personally worse off (48%) than Democrats (25%) since the pandemic started — even though more Democrats than Republicans say they know someone who has been infected (83% vs. 76%), hospitalized (45% vs. 36%) or killed (33% vs. 24%) by the virus.
Going forward, Americans seem increasingly — and understandably — eager to put the pandemic behind them. Slightly less than half of Americans (49%) say they wore a mask “most of the time” or “always” during the last week, down from 62% in early February. Just 38% of parents report their school systems still require students to wear masks, down from 55% in mid-December.
Only a mere 5% of Americans now select COVID-19 as their top priority for President Biden, and just 23% think the pandemic should be among Biden’s top three priorities, down 6 points from two weeks ago. The article asserts that the “reason for this is that a clear majority of Americans (55%) now believe the worst of the pandemic is “behind us,” while just 17% still believe the worst is “yet to come.”
The posting ends with a request that this country support more funding to fight the virus and an ominous foreboding regarding the new virus variations that will certainly occur. “But experts say America should prepare for the worst even as it hopes for the best, warning that whatever versions of the virus come after Omicron won’t necessarily be “milder.” The posting concludes that the country should spend more money fighting the virus. “We need this money,” a senior administration official told reporters during a press call on Tuesday, pointing to looming shortfalls in the ability to manufacture and widely distribute tests, therapeutics and vaccines. “Time is not on our side. We need this funding immediately.” More money, says the group that interpreted the poll.
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