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New cases of COVID-19 in the United States are now averaging less than 30,000 per day. To find a time in the pandemic when cases were fewer, you have to go back to early July last year – before the big Delta wave hit. Now that the Omicron wave has passed, the CDC has relaxed masking and other prevention recommendations.

But a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll finds that many Americans still perceive that they and their loved ones are at risk from COVID — and it’s affecting how the consumer economy is recovering.

The Kaiser Family Foundation finds that 60% of American adults have not fully resumed their pre-pandemic activities. And director of public opinion Liz Hamel said people were sharply divided on the extent of their concern about COVID.

“Six in 10 people say they think people should continue to wear masks in certain public places to minimize the spread and prevent another outbreak. While the other 4 in 10 say, “No, people should just stop wearing masks in most places so we can just get back to normal,” she said.

Hamel said whites, Republicans and the unvaccinated are the least likely to be concerned and take precautions against COVID. Blacks and Hispanics are more likely to mask up and support mask mandates.

“People of color are disproportionately represented in low-income jobs or in service sector jobs exposed to the public,” she said, adding that they are less likely to get sick leave. paid at work.

Yet all this worry doesn’t stop people from going out and spending.

Polling firm Morning Consult finds that three quarters of us are now comfortable going to a restaurant, almost as many are good at shopping in a mall.

But some changes in consumer behavior may not be reversible, chief economist John Leer said. For example, even though we feel perfectly fine going to the movies, “now people have bought really nice televisions and they have nice facilities to watch movies at home, production companies showing movies to watch home. And it’s hard for me to see how that goes back to a pre-pandemic world, in terms of where people spend their money.

Meanwhile, job creation is strong. Unemployment and layoffs are now as low or less than before the pandemic.

But COVID is still a drag on a full labor market recovery, said Robert Frick of the Navy Federal Credit Union: because of illness, fear and burnout.

“We are 300,000 healthcare jobs short of reaching the pre-pandemic peak. The COVID hangover is going to be long and lasting,” he said.

Child care centers are still down by more than 100,000 jobs. Frick said each of those missing workers means some parents can’t yet fully get back to work, either.

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