The surge in the highly infectious delta variant has made Americans more worried about contracting COVID-19, according to a new poll. Nearly half of Americans, or 47 percent, say they are at moderate or high risk of becoming sick from the coronavirus, up 18 percentage points from the end of June, according to the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll. Among partially or fully vaccinated Americans, concern over becoming infected with the virus has surged 20 points during the time to 52 percent. Among the unvaccinated, concern about contracting the virus has also grown, from 22 percent to 35 percent. Despite the increased concern about contracting the virus that doesn’t necessarily mean most are particularly worried. Only 39 percent of Americans said they are very or somewhat concerned about the consequences of infection.
The poll is the latest to show a decline in vaccine hesitancy while suggesting that there is still room for more people to get vaccinated as the delta variant continues to spread. Even though 17 percent of adults say they probably or definitely won’t get vaccinated, that number has declined from 24 percent in April. And there are 6 percent of adults who have not been vaccinated who say they will probably or definitely get the shot in the future. Many of the unvaccinated are very adamant about not getting the shot. In all, 72 percent of those who are unvaccinated and are not self-employed say they would quit if they were required to get the vaccine and couldn’t get an exemption.
The poll also shows there’s broad approval for mask and vaccine mandates in schools. A clear majority, or 67 percent, support school districts requiring teachers, staff and students to wear masks. The same proportion of Americans support local mandates requiring masks indoors in public places.
As cases continue to increase, the approval of President Joe Biden’s handling of the pandemic has dropped sharply to 52 percent, down 10 points from June. The president’s overall approval rating fell from 50 percent to 44 percent during the period, dragged lower by the general disapproval of how he handled the withdrawal from Afghanistan.