Americans' optimism of COVID-19 handling plummets, poll shows

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Americans’ optimism about the coronavirus pandemic getting better has plummeted as threat of the delta variant continues. 

Forty-five percent of Americans now view the pandemic as getting worse, while 40% say it is getting better, according to a poll released by Gallup on Monday. Just in June, 89% of Americans saw the pandemic as on the mend, while only 3% saw it as getting worse. 

“Nonetheless, Americans are not yet ready to return to strict social distancing or to recommend that the country shut down. But along with their increased pessimism about the state of the pandemic, Americans foresee dealing with pandemic disruptions for far longer than they did just a month ago,” Gallup reported. 

Forty-two percent of respondents expect societal disruptions related to the virus to continue into 2022, while nearly 50% of Americans in June believed societal disruptions would last only a few more weeks or months. Now, only 17% believe the disruptions will end in the coming weeks.

The poll was conducted ​​between July 19-26 and is based on an online survey of 3,475 U.S. adults. 

The sentiment change comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its mask guidance for vaccinated individuals last week, now urging people in some areas of the country with “high” or “substantial” COVID-19 transmission to mask up indoors. 

Some Democratic state and local leaders have also reimplemented mask mandates, such as in Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, in response to threats of the delta variant. 

Meanwhile, some Republican leaders have pushed back on reinstituting such mandates, including in Texas, where Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order banning mask and vaccine mandates last week. 

“To further ensure that no governmental entity can mandate masks, the following requirement shall continue to apply: No governmental entity, including a county, city, school district, and public health authority, and no governmental official may require any person to wear a face-covering or to mandate that other person wear a covering,” the executive order read.

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