Morning Consult is presenting this as “good news” because the CDC announcement did, it seems, nudge some vaxxed people towards resuming pre-pandemic activities. In particular, 67 percent of vaccinated Americans are now willing to go out to eat versus 56 percent before the announcement. And 54 percent are willing to socialize in public places now compared to 46 percent before.
That is good news, both as a matter of basic mental wellness for the country and for business owners.
But out of 19 activities listed, only four saw a majority of vaccinated people say they’d feel “comfortable” doing them right now. Is that really good news after America’s top science bureaucrat went on TV last week to say, essentially, that if you’ve had your shots you can live life again?
The image in this tweet doesn’t capture all 19 activities. For the full list and the numbers, click here.
An average of 45% of vaccinated U.S. adults are now comfortable with dozens of leisure and lifestyle activities, up 6 points from last week. https://t.co/0lYoHminf5 #ReturnToNormal pic.twitter.com/7ib9rS3dMo
— Morning Consult (@MorningConsult) May 19, 2021
Maybe we should pay attention to the wording. Morning Consult didn’t ask if people are willing to *do* the activities, only whether they’d feel comfortable doing them. Members of my family went out to eat on Mother’s Day after a year of avoiding restaurants. They were apprehensive but they forged on, because at some point you’ve got to fight through the fear. Would they be included in the “comfortable” or “uncomfortable” numbers here?
Scan the whole list and you’ll see how irrational some of the thinking is. Although 67 percent are comfortable going out to eat, just 45 percent are comfortable attending a wedding. Er, why? Thirty-eight percent would be comfortable flying but only 28 percent would be comfortable taking a bus. Is that because air on a plane is constantly replaced in the cabin or is there no logic to it whatsoever? Some 60 percent are comfortable shopping at a mall but nearly half that number, 33 percent, are comfortable going to a sporting event — even though typically we think of those happening outdoors.
I think part of the calculus in measuring “comfort” is how much people yearn to resume each activity. Riding a bus? Nah. Flying on a plane? Well … maybe, yeah, as that means travel. Going shopping at the mall? Sure. Going out to eat? Definitely! The more common the pleasure, the more people miss it, the more “comfortable” they feel chancing infection to do it. It’s the special events, like baseball games or concerts, that they’re still willing to avoid. For now.
Even so, I wonder if vaccinated people don’t fully realize how well the U.S. is doing with the pandemic at the moment. I don’t want to oversell it — hundreds per day are still dying — but the seven-day average in cases is under 30,000 daily, its lowest point in 11 months. Actually, scratch that: We’re doing much better than we were 11 months ago since many more tests per day are being conducted now and, of course, many, many millions more people have been immunized. All but three states now have infection rates of less than 1.0, which means cases in the great majority of the U.S. are declining. All 50 states now have positivity rates of less than seven percent, all but three have rates less than six percent, and 40 states have rates less than five percent.
Since COVID arrived last March, it’s never been safer in the United States to be out and about, enjoying life with other people. And yet, majorities of the vaxxed are comfortable doing only four of the 19 activities on Morning Consult’s list.
Of course, our positive trends may not last long:
That’s the umpteenth poll I’ve posted over the past few months showing that the unvaccinated are more willing to get back to normal than the vaccinated are. And that’s exactly what Fauci was afraid of in warning this morning that states are “misinterpreting” the new CDC guidance by ending mask mandates. The unvaccinated are supposed to stay masked. What will happen to the case curve now that they’re mingling with each other in public spaces again?
Maybe … nothing? One doctor on Twitter noted that rising vaccination rates in the U.S. are already paying dividends for kids, most of whom are unvaccinated:
With adult vax, US kids cases have decreased by 45% last 4 weeks. Infect rate among kids now .07%. Chance an asympt kid will infect another kid and a severe outcome will occur is approx 0.0007 (prev) x 0.007 (asymp transm) x 0.00008 (covid hosp rate in kids)= 0.00000004%. pic.twitter.com/6zhkhLRvGT
— Tracy Høeg, MD, PhD (@TracyBethHoeg) May 19, 2021
Fewer infections among adults means fewer adults to pass the virus on to kids. That’s how herd immunity works. Not only that, but a new study of two hospitals in California suggests we may have grossly overestimated how many kids have been hospitalized due to COVID. (Which is a small number to begin with.) In nearly 40 percent of cases, researchers found, kids who were hospitalized and tested positive for the virus while in the hospital were asymptomatic — meaning that they weren’t there due to COVID complications. They were there for other reasons and just happened to have the virus in their systems when they were swabbed. Add that to the long, long list of reasons that keeping kids out of class this year was needless and destructive. And why parents who are worried about their unvaccinated kids navigating a newly maskless society shouldn’t sweat it so much.