Americans are less optimistic they can return to their “normal” lives than they did earlier this year, according to a new Axios-Ipsos poll, after a summer of new pandemic restrictions amid soaring Covid-19 infections, record-high deaths and overwhelmed hospitals.
Three in 10 Americans think it will take more than a year for life to get back to pre-pandemic “normal,” according to the Axios-Ipsos poll of 1,015 Americans conducted between October 8-11.
That’s more than triple the proportion when the question was polled in June, where just 9% thought it would take more than a year for life to get back to normal.
Other metrics display a similar, though less dramatic, drop in optimism and a shift towards longer timescales by which people think life will return to normal.
Nearly a quarter (24%) think life will get back to normal within a year, up five points from June, while just 13% now think it will within the next 1-6 months, almost a third of the number answering that in June (36%).
One in ten (10%) think life will never get back to normal—up three points from June (7%)—and fewer (22%) say they have already returned to their pre-pandemic life than did in June (28%).
Though many report “normal” feeling further away, the poll found most people to be undertaking everyday activities like visiting friends or relatives (58%), visiting a non-grocery retail store (60%) and eating out in restaurants (55%) in the last week, some of the highest figures since polling began in March 2020.
The proportion of people believing life will never get back to normal in October, 10%, is the second-highest recorded by the poll since it began asking in January 2021. The highest, 11%, was recorded in mid-February and the figure has generally oscillated between lows of 5% (in mid-March and mid-May 2021) and 8%. Though down from a high in June, the 22% believing life to already be back to normal is also the second-highest figure recorded for that question.
While Americans may be less optimistic about life getting back to normal sooner than they did in summer, polling and data indicate a mixed return to “normal” activities. Besides returning to restaurants and visiting friends and family, online bookings for domestic travel, which had been nearing pre-pandemic levels, are falling and polling suggests more than half of Americans will postpone or cancel trips to areas experiencing major outbreaks. Vaccination is a key factor for many in their return to normal. One poll found half of Americans wary about spending time with unvaccinated friends and family and immunization is now a requirement for many jobs across the country.