If personal presence in your church has diminished in recent weeks, this is probably a sign of growing concern among Americans about getting COVID-19.
Gallup reports that his survey of adult Americans from January 3 to 14 showed growing concern about the Omicron variant, declining optimism about the pandemic trajectory and declining willingness to go anywhere in the big crowd.
“As was the case last July, when Delta infections began to rise, Americans’ concerns about the virus are now on the rise,” the research firm said. “Concerns have jumped 12 points to 50% from previous readings in late November / early December and are now the highest since last winter, before COVID-19 vaccines were readily available to the general public.”
Concerns about the virus have increased a double-digit number among all age groups, Gallup noted, with the biggest jump among older Americans. Concerns from Democrats, independents and those vaccinated against the disease have also doubled.
Then this: “During the pandemic, increased concern about the COVID-19 infection resulted in an increase in Americans’ social distancing behavior. With the recent sharp rise in COVID-19 cases in the U.S., more and more Americans are now reporting avoiding situations that could expose them to the virus.
Among a representative sample of adults surveyed, 56% said they avoided the big crowds of the previous week due to concerns about the coronavirus. Also, 41% said they stay away from public places such as shops and restaurants. Fewer, 34%, said they avoided small gatherings, but the percentage of Americans avoiding small gatherings has jumped 13 points since the end of November.
Number of confirmed COVID infections in the United States it is currently by far the largest in the entire time span of the pandemic, rising fivefold since Christmas.
Gallup charts and graphs illustrate the ups and downs of attitudes and concerns of Americans about COVID-19, with peaks corresponding to the rise of the Delta variant, and now the Omicron variant.
The American hope regarding the pandemic “is now broken by Omicron”, the company announced – although many more people have been vaccinated.
In May and June 2021, with the introduction of readily available vaccines, more than four in five adults believed that the coronavirus situation was improving. Then, as the Delta variant began to expand in July, that number dropped to 15%. By October, with the slowdown in infections from the Delta variant, 51% of adults again thought the situation was improving. But as news of the rise of Omicron began circulating in November, the percentage saying the situation was improving fell by 20 percentage points. Now optimism has dropped by an additional 11 points.
Today, only 20% of American adults believe the pandemic is improving, while 22% think it stays the same and 58% believe it is getting worse.
Indoor dining in restaurants is one of the indicators of American attitudes. Although restaurants in some communities seem to be full again, across the country since May 2020, according to Gallup, no more than 30% of American adults have reported having dined at a restaurant in the previous 24 hours. That number has now dropped to 18%.
Another comparison for churches is the attendance of Americans in cinemas.
In early January, Gallup reported that in the past 12 months, Americans had watched an average of 1.4 movies in theaters – less than 4.8 movies averaged between 2001 and 2007. More importantly, Gallup found that in 2021, 61% Americans did not look to visit the cinema at all, the largest number in Gallup’s tracking history.
“Attendance seems to be still depressing even when cinemas are now open and vaccinations are available to most Americans, indicating a continuing public concern about the COVID-19 infection in closed facilities such as theaters, ”Gallup reported.
Meanwhile, the use of face masks in public remains unchanged. “As of August, approximately seven in 10 American adults, including 72% in the new poll, say they have worn face masks when they have been in public for the past seven days,” Gallup reported. “As of mid-April 2020, at least six in 10 Americans have done so, including more than nine in 10 in the summer of 2020, when many companies demanded face coverage.”
The use of face masks remains one of the most politically charged divisions among Americans today.
“Pandemic views remain sharply politically polarized, and a stable proportion of about one-fifth of the adult population not vaccinated against COVID-19 largely avoids masks and social distancing measures,” Gallup said. “Meanwhile, public health officials continue to promote the use of masks and the benefits of vaccines as a way to end the pandemic.”
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