Crowd levels reported at pre-pandemic levels reported across New Jersey over the holiday weekend confirmed a recent Monmouth Poll: Public anxiety about contracting the coronavirus has plummeted since the beginning of the year and stands at its lowest level in 16 months.
But a majority of Americans still have some concern about another possible surge in cases if not enough people get vaccinated, with one in five adults remaining opposed to getting the shot.
“Vaccine access is certainly behind this sharp drop in COVID anxiety. The public is not saying we are out of the woods, but the sense of uncertainty is lifting,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.
The poll comes as President Joe Biden doubled down on coaxing people to get vaccinated as a voluntary approach that appears to have hit its limit for a large number of Americans who say they have no intention of taking the shot.
Faced with a steep decline in vaccination rates, President Biden said his administration would send people door-to-door, set up clinics at workplaces and urge employers to offer paid time off as part of a renewed push to reach tens of millions of unvaccinated Americans.
Less Worry About Family
The federal push comes as poll numbers continue to decline about Americans worrying about a family member getting seriously ill from the coronavirus. Currently, 42% expressed concern about this happening. In prior polls since the pandemic started, that number ranged between 67% and 83%.
In that cohort, the number who say they are very concerned about a serious illness in their family from COVID-19 has dropped to 23% from 40% in March and a pandemic-era high of 60% in January.
The poll found decline is fairly consistent across demographic groups. There has been a slightly larger drop since January among women to 24% from 65% than among men to 21% from 54%. Among those 65 years and older, the decline (to 23% from 67% ) is comparable to those under 65 years old (to 22% from 58%). Concerns among White Americans declined to 17% from 55% in January and people of color to 32% from 70% have dropped by the same amount; the latter group remains relatively more worried about someone in their family falling ill from the virus.
Unsurprisingly, partisan identity is one characteristic that shows a significant difference in the rate of decline over COVID illness concerns, although this is partly due to the fact Republicans started out with lower levels of anxiety, according to Monmouth Poll officials.
Percentages who are very concerned about a family member getting a serious illness have dropped by 47 points among Democrats since January (to 32% from 79%) and 40 points among Independents (to 15% from 55%). It has declined by a smaller 21 points among Republicans to 20% from 41%.
Other poll findings suggest the country is approaching the point of maxing out its vaccination rate. Twenty one percent remain opposed to getting the vaccine at all—a number that has remained fairly consistent since the beginning of the year (ranging from 21% to 24%).
Outright opposition to getting the shot is most strongly correlated with one’s political affiliation. Specifically, among the one in five Americans who say they will not get the vaccine if they can avoid it, 69% either identify with or lean toward the Republican Party while 13% identify as Democrats.
“We have seen this trend since vaccines became available. Opposition to getting the shot will not budge without stronger and more consistent messaging from GOP leaders about taking the vaccine,” said Murray. “However, it might be too late at this point since Republican distrust in the efficacy of COVID vaccines is abysmally low.”
Among those who are persuadable about the vaccine, 44% are Republicans or lean toward that party and 39% are Democrats or Democratic leaners. Among those who have already received the vaccine, 31% fall on the Republican side of the political divide and 56% are on the Democratic side.
Causes for Decline
Half of the public say most of the recent decrease in coronavirus cases is due to the availability of vaccines. In a separate question, 23% say most of the drop is just a product of the virus running its course. In March, 20% said most of the decline then was due to the vaccines and 28% said most of it was a natural decline that would have happened without the vaccines.
Of those who have been vaccinated, 68% attribute most of the decline in cases to the vaccines while just 13% say it was mostly a natural decline. Among those who refuse to get the vaccine, just 6% attribute the decline mostly to vaccines while 55% say it was mostly the virus running its course. Among the persuadable group, 25% attribute most of the decline to the vaccines and 30% say it was mostly a natural drop.
“The difficulty with instituting an honor system is it’s already toothless when a significant chunk of the public was disregarding the rules to begin with,” said Murray.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 10,059,473 in-state, plus an additional 352,743 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 10,412,216 as of July 7. Of those who have received the vaccine, 4,915,034 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 151,895 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 5,066,929.
Demographically, 53% of those vaccinated are women and 47% men. As for ethnicity, 49% are White, 15% Hispanic, 11% Asian, 7% Black, 9% other and 9% unknown. In regards to the age of those having received the vaccine, 25% are 65 years old or olders, 27% are between the ages of 50-64, 29% are between the ages of 30-49, and 19% are between the ages of 12-29.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 1,146,838 doses (563,634 fully vaccinated), Essex 844,217 doses (408,631), Hudson 772,314 doses (369,812), Morris 632,831 doses (309,009), Passaic 522,153 doses (253,192), Sussex 147,450 doses (72,965), and Warren 95,013 doses (46,748).
As of July 7, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 894,224 with 240 total new PCR cases reported. There were 130 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 130,524. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,024,748.
As for those that have passed, the state reported eight confirmed deaths, bringing that total to 23,781. The state listed probable deaths at 2,709, bringing the overall total to 26,490. State officials noted one death occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that has not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on July 7, Bergen had a total of 19 new confirmed cases and seven new probable cases, Essex 23 new cases and seven new probable case, Hudson five new cases and five new probable cases, Morris 13 new confirmed cases and 12 new probable cases, Passaic eight new cases and 10 new probable cases, Sussex three new cases and five new probable cases, and Warren had two new cases and no new probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,723, followed by Bergen at 2,590, Hudson with 2,087, Passaic at 1,738, Morris at 980, Sussex at 239, and Warren County at 212.
In regards to probable deaths reported July 7, Essex has 302, Bergen has 302, Morris has 261, Hudson has 218, Passaic has 201, Sussex has 68 and Warren has 26.
As for the rate of transmission reported July 7, it decreased to 0.92 from 0.95 the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested July 3 was 1.5%; by region, the rate was 1.2% in the North, 2.1% in the Central region and 1.2% in the South.
Officials reported 310 patients were hospitalized; 237 cases were confirmed and 73 are under investigation. By region, there were 144 in the North, 88 in the Central and 78 in the South.
Of those hospitalized, 51 are in intensive care units and 23 on ventilators. A total of 28 patients were discharged, while 32 were admitted.
Officials have continually cited transmission rate, hospitalizations, intensive care units, ventilators and positivity rate as health data they rely on to track how the coronavirus is being contained in New Jersey, guiding them in determining when restrictions have to be tightened or lifted.
Bergen Tops County Count
Bergen has the most confirmed cumulative cases in the state with 90,360, followed by Middlesex at 85,221, Essex at 84,978, Hudson at 79,117, Monmouth at 68,117, Ocean at 66,192, Passaic at 66,029, Union at 60,730, Camden at 49,237, Morris at 42,090, Burlington at 38,443, Mercer at 31,778, Gloucester at 26,694, Atlantic at 25,032, Somerset at 24,445, Cumberland at 14,968, Sussex at 11,782, Warren at 9,020, Hunterdon at 9,012, Salem at 5,582, and Cape May at 4,667.
In regards to probable cases, Bergen had the most at 14,769, followed by Union at 11,144, Ocean at 10,460, Essex at 9,554, Hudson at 9,354, Morris at 8,349, Monmouth at 8,233, Middlesex at 7,513, Passaic at 7,459, Camden at 6,780, Atlantic at 6,665, Burlington at 6,030, Somerset at 5,846, Cape May at 4,643, Gloucester at 4,058, Mercer at 2,444, Sussex at 2,358, Cumberland at 2,293, Warren at 1,032, Hunterdon at 903, and Salem 541.
Another 730 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 16 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 181 of the cases, broken down between 49 residents and 132 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,487 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 32,796 residents and 22,229 staff, for a total of 55,025.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,063 on July 7. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,878 residents deaths and 144 staff deaths.