Fewer Americans say they would resume daily activities as coronavirus cases increase, survey finds
WASHINGTON – A couple of months ago, some Americans began to participate in everyday activities like going to restaurants and eating with friends after states began loosening social distancing restrictions for the coronavirus pandemic.
But as the number of COVID-19 cases has risen again, some Americans are losing confidence in resuming things like sending their child back to school, going to a religious service or eating at a restaurant, according to a new study.
Only 44% of Americans say they would send their child back to school if restrictions were lifted by public health officials, according to a survey from the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape Project that was conducted the week of July 9. That is a 4 percentage point drop from June, when 48% of Americans said they would.
In a July 16 survey, 44% of Americans who regularly engage in this activity said they would attend a religious service, a 5 percentage point drop from June.
The largest drop was among those who said they would have dinner at a friend’s house, with 59% saying they would, an 8 percentage point drop from June.
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“We're kind of going to go through waves with this stuff, at least in the United States, where we are experiencing this second surge, and where you're going to see people feel less confident about trying to reengage in these activities that defined their life pre-COVID,” said Robert Griffin, research director for the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group.
Griffin noted that before the new rise in coronavirus cases, around April through June, “people were getting more and more confident about the idea that they'd be returning to different types of activities” like concerts or going to church.
Some states began lifting social distancing restrictions in May and June. However, over the past several weeks, states like California, Texas, Arizona and Florida, have seen a rise in cases, which has caused the states to pause plans to re-open. On Thursday, there were more than 4.4 million confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University.
US coronavirus map: Tracking the outbreak
Other activities that have seen a drop in Americans saying they would do include:
- 23% of Americans said in the July 9 survey that they would go to a concert, compared with 30% in June.
- In the July 9 survey, 34% of Americans said they would fly on an airplane, while that number was at 39% in June.
- 54% of Americans said they would attend a funeral, according to the July 16 survey, a 5 percentage point drop from June.
- Only 30% of Americans said that they would go to the movies in the July 16 survey, compared with 36% in June.
- There was a 5 percentage drop to 50% in July among those who said they would eat at a restaurant.
- 40% of Americans said in the July 16 survey they would attend a wedding, while 47% said they would in the June survey.
- Only 27% in the July 9 survey said they would attend a sporting event, a 5 percentage point drop from June.
The Democracy Fund and UCLA Nationscape Project is a large-scale study of the American electorate designed to conduct 500,000 interviews about policies and the presidential candidates during the 2020 election cycle. The latest poll was conducted between July 16 and 22, surveying 5,898 Americans. There is a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points. The second July poll was conducted between July 9 and 15, surveying 6,291 Americans. There is a margin of error of plus or minus 2.1 percentage points. The older poll was conducted the week of June 11 to 17, surveying 6,897 Americans. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.1 percentage points.
The divide among Democrats and Republicans wanting to resume some of these activities has also grown, according to the Nationscape Insights analysis, a project of Democracy Fund, UCLA and USA TODAY.
Where do Americans stand on the issues: Let them tell you.
For example, more than half (58%) of Republicans said in the July 9 survey that they would send their child back to school. However in that same survey, only 35% of Democrats and 37% of Independents said they would send their child back to school.
"This reflects some of the polarization that started to occur around this issue with the president taking a pretty strongly pro-opening of the schools position," Griffin said. "There's still a lot of concern on the other side of the aisle about reopening under the current conditions. So you're starting to see this partisan split that's developed now."
That isn't the only issue where a divide is growing. Some other data includes:
- 59% of Republicans said they would attend religious services, compared with 33% of Democrats.
- Among those who would attend a concert, 33% of Republicans and 15% of Democrats said they would.
- 70% of Republicans said they would have dinner at a friend's house while 52% of Democrats said they would.
- There is a 20 percentage point divide among those who would fly in an airplane, with 46% of Republicans saying they would and only 26% of Democrats saying they would.
- 67% of Republicans said they would attend a funeral, compared with 44% of Democrats
- Among those who would go to the movies, 39% of Republicans said they would compared with 23% of Democrats
- There's a 26 percentage point divide among those who would eat at a restaurant, with 65% of Republicans saying they would compared with 39% of Democrats.