Restrictions increase in the cities of El Paso and Ciudad Júarez 3:37
. – Poll of the Week: A new Gallup poll found that only 49% of Americans say they would confine themselves if recommended by public health officials because of a coronavirus outbreak.
That’s far less than the 67% who said it during a Gallup poll conducted in late March and early April.
What is the point? The coronavirus outbreak was lost in the news for the past month due to the elections. But just because the media isn’t covering the pandemic to the same level, it doesn’t mean it’s gone.
In fact, we are seeing some of the worst coronavirus numbers in a long time, and unlike earlier this year, it is not at all clear whether there is a public willingness to do whatever it takes to reduce the infection rate.
A look at the coronavirus numbers
A look at the numbers explains it. Right now, the virus is sweeping almost every state. As of this writing, a CNN analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University indicates that the number of coronavirus cases is up in every state compared to last week except Georgia. An examination of the data by The New York Times shows that, in more than 90% of the states, there was a daily average of at least 15 new cases per 100,000 people during the past week.
Shockingly, there are now more new coronavirus cases every day than at any time during the pandemic.
Even states that were touted as success stories have suffered setbacks. Take New York State for example, which has one of the most far-reaching testing programs in the country. On September 1, 0.8% of the tests were positive on the daily, 7-day, and 14-day average. This week, the daily hit topped 3% in at least one day, while the 7-14 day average topped 2%. That is a huge increase.
This rising positivity rate occurred even as the number of tests grew compared to two months ago, which should reduce the positivity rate if the number of cases remains static.
In fact, it is not just the cases and the evidence that are increasing nationally. The number of deaths and hospitalizations has risen more than 33%, according to The New York Times.
A world of problems
We are, to put it mildly, in a world of trouble.
However, the American public or the electorate does not appear to have the same willingness we had in April to do what we can to keep the virus at bay.
It’s not just that less than a majority of Americans are unwilling to say that they are “very likely” to confine themselves. It is that they are not currently isolating themselves. A clear majority (62%) said they were only partially isolated or not isolated at all in the Gallup poll in late October. The percentage was half (30%) in April.
In an Axios / Ipsos survey conducted at the end of October, 53% admitted that they did not always maintain a distance of at least five feet from other people when leaving their home. This was one of the highest numbers in the pandemic. In April, the percentage that said they did not maintain a distance of at least five feet never exceeded 34%.
And while 46% of Americans said they have not yet started making plans for the end-of-the-year holidays, those who have are split fairly evenly between planning the celebration between their immediate family and those with those who live (30%) and with those outside this select group (24%).
end of year partys
In other words, there appears to be a real possibility that the end of the year holidays will become an opportunity for the coronavirus to spread easily because people will be meeting indoors with people they do not live with. (Public health officials say these smaller gatherings are how most of the transmission happens.)
Perhaps most worryingly, these poll numbers come in a context in which Americans seem to realize that the country is on the wrong track regarding how we are handling the virus.
The majority (61%) told Gallup that the coronavirus situation is getting worse. A mere 23% think it is improving, one of the lowest percentages in the pandemic so far.
Although Americans know we are on the wrong track, this has not yet triggered the kind of change in habits that may be necessary to roll back the latest wave of cases.
Unless Americans change positions quickly, things can get a lot worse with the virus.