Unvaccinated Americans’ concern about the new omicron variant plunged at the end of December despite rising Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations that leave them most at risk, a new Morning Consult poll finds, as Americans broadly aren’t growing more concerned about the new variant or changing their lifestyles despite cases reaching record levels.
Concern about omicron among the unvaccinated dropped from 52% to 44% between December 24 and 30, the Morning Consult poll found, which was conducted among 2,220 U.S. adults.
Concern levels held steady among the vaccinated (going from 80% to 79%), while concern among all respondents went down from 72% to 68%.
The plunging concern may at least be partially due to evidence suggesting the variant causes less severe disease than earlier strains, Morning Consult notes, though the World Health Organization has cautioned more studies are needed before drawing conclusions about the variant’s severity.
The share of total respondents who said they’re “very concerned” about coronavirus outbreaks in general declined slightly from 43% to 41%—though that’s slightly up from 38% who were concerned in early December before the variant took hold.
The percentage of all respondents saying they think the virus poses a “severe health risk” to their local community held steady from December 24-30 at 29%, though that’s up from 25% in early December.
Separate Morning Consult polling on Americans’ comfort level with various activities found that it’s only slightly declined or stayed the same despite the omicron surge. The share of those comfortable dining indoors has gone down five points since mid-December but only one point since last week (to 60%), while comfort with going to the movies has stayed close to 50% since October and the share of those willing to go to the theater went up by one percentage point since last week (to 41%). Fewer Americans do feel comfortable socializing, however, with Morning Consult finding the share of those willing to go to a party is now at its lowest point since September (at 42%) and those comfortable going on a date has dropped by seven percentage points since mid-December (to 52%).
73%. That’s the percentage of U.S. adults who are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, leaving more than one-quarter still unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated.
The omicron variant is now linked to nearly all new U.S. Covid-19 cases and has led to a spike in cases nationwide, with public health data compiled by the New York Times finding cases have gone up by 254% over the past two weeks. The highly transmissible variant has spurred major outbreaks in places like New York City, Washington, D.C., and Florida and has led to widespread staffing shortages, event cancellations and new Covid-19 measures. Despite evidence that suggests the variant may be milder than earlier strains, the surge in cases has also led to a rise in Covid-19 hospitalizations, with the Times finding U.S. hospitalizations have risen by 51% over the past two weeks and hard-hit areas like New York and New Jersey reporting hospitalization levels higher than the states’ previous Covid-19 surges last winter. The unvaccinated are particularly at risk, as vaccines continue to be highly protective against severe illness and death even as evidence shows they’re less effective at preventing infections.