Americans are concerned about the spread of COVID-19 but are ready to accept it as part of a new normal in their life.
Those are the sentiments gleaned from the national Monmouth University Poll released Jan. 31. A majority of respondents continue to support some preventative measures, such as face masks and social distancing guidelines, but not others, such as workplace vaccine mandates. But faith in the ability of President Joe Biden and the federal government to get a handle on the pandemic is declining amid persistent opposition from anti-vaxxers.
The most lopsided result in the poll is how Americans feel their fellow citizens have done in responding to the pandemic. Opinion on how the public is dealing with the pandemic remains largely negative at 29% good job and 58% bad job, remaining virtually unchanged but up from a December 2021 27%/56% split.
Ready to Accept
The Jersey Shore polling outfit found 70% agree with the sentiment that “it’s time we accept that COVID is here to stay and we just need to get on with our lives”—including 78% of those who report having gotten COVID and 65% of those who say they have not been infected. But, as past polls have indicated, there is a partisan divide as 89% of Republicans and 71% of Independents agreed with the statement compared to 47% of Democrats.
Only 34% of the public feels the country will get the outbreak under control and return to normal by the end of the year. The number who believe a return to normalcy will never happen continues to grow—28% in the latest poll, up from 22% who felt this way in September and just 6% who were similarly pessimistic exactly a year ago.
40% Report Having COVID
“Americans’ worries about COVID haven’t gone away. It seems more to be a realization that we are not going to get this virus under control in a way that we thought was possible just last year,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.
The shift in public opinion comes as 40% report that they have had or think they have had COVID since the pandemic began in March 2020, including 27% who said their infection was confirmed with a test. About one-third (36%) of people who have been vaccinated report also being infected with COVID compared with 61% of those who have not gotten a shot say they have been infected with the virus.
With the recent surge fueled by the Omicron variant waning in the Garden State, over half the the public when combined is either very (23%) or somewhat (27%) concerned about catching one of the new COVID variants. This concern includes 58% of those who have not had COVID and includes 38% of those who have already had it.
Omicron seems to have affected respondents’ views on the number of adults who are very concerned about catching a new variant, up from 14% in early December. Similarly, the number of people who are very concerned about a family member becoming seriously ill from the virus (38%) has increased since December (30%), but it is still lower than concern in September (45%) when the Delta variant was spreading.
A stable proportion of the public continues to remain opposed to vaccination. While 45% of American adults report getting a booster shot, 37% remain unlikely to ever do so and include 17% who remain opposed even to getting the initial vaccination.
“A key factor in the public’s inclination to accept having to live with COVID is the intransigence of a sizable segment of the population on vaccination. It seems unlikely that herd immunity could ever be achieved through preventative measures,” said Murray.
Split on Face Mask, Vaccine Mandate
Two of the more polarizing health protocols in fighting the spread of the virus continue to see support slipping. For a face mask mandate, 52% were in support of instituting face mask and social distancing guidelines in their home state. This number is down from December (55%) and September (63%), but is the same as last July (52%) when COVID’s spread hit its lowest ebb so far.
And under half—43%—support requiring some sort of vaccine passport in order to work in an office or other setting where they are around other people. Support for this approach has declined steadily since September (53%), including 46% last month.
“We still see public support for maintaining some degree of public safety around COVID. However, there appears to be an acknowledgment that federal measures have not been effective, or at least have failed to be widely accepted,” said Murray.
Biden Ratings Down
Ratings for how both the president and federal health agencies have handled the pandemic continue to slip as well. Just 43% say President Biden has done a good job on this while 53% say he has done a bad job—the first time his rating on this metric has been underwater since he took office.
Public opinion on the President’s handling of COVID was evenly split in December 2021 ast 46% and was consistently positive in polls prior to that. Views of federal health agencies’ handling of the pandemic have now dipped into negative territory (46% good job/47% bad job) after declining but remaining positive a month ago (48%/41%).
At the same time, ratings for state governors’ COVID handling have improved slightly (54% good job and 41% bad job, compared with 50% good and 41% bad in December).
The cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey as of Feb. 1 was 1,828,823 with 2,417 total new PCR cases. There were 1,104 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 286,482. The total number of individual cases for the state is 2,115,305.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 115 confirmed deaths, bringing that total to 28,628. The state listed probable deaths at 2,919, bringing the overall total to 31,547. State officials noted 54 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on Feb. 1, Bergen had a total of 306 new confirmed cases and 156 new probable cases, Essex 139 new cases and 62 new probable case, Hudson 164 new cases and 84 new probable cases, Morris 109 new confirmed cases and 55 new probable cases, Passaic 158 new cases and 62 new probable cases, Sussex 38 new cases and 10 new probable cases, and Warren 29 new cases and 23 new probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 3,144, followed by Bergen at 2,983, Hudson with 2,396, Passaic at 2,037, Morris at 1,176, Sussex at 353, and Warren County at 287.
In regards to probable deaths reported Jan. 31, Bergen has 331, Essex has 309, Morris has 280, Hudson has 224, Passaic has 203, Sussex has 80 and Warren has 27.
As for the rate of transmission reported Feb. 1, it increased to 0.55 from 0.54 the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested Jan. 27 was 10.6%; by region, the rate was 8.4% in the North, 12.6% in the Central region and 13.4% in the South.
The state’s dashboard had a count of 2,919 patients hospitalized as 71 hospitals in the Garden State filed reports Feb. 1. By region, there were 1,112 in the North, 1,045 in the Central and 762 in the South—the first time under 1,000 since New Year’s Day. Of those hospitalized, 505 are in intensive care units and 430 on ventilators. A total of 278 patients were discharged in the last 24 hour reporting period.
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.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 564 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 26,044 of the cases, broken down between 11,925 residents and 14,119 staff.
Cumulatively, 2,354 long-term care facilities have reported an outbreak infecting 45,735 residents and 37,140 staff, for a total of 82,875.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 9,021 on Jan. 31. The facilities are reporting to the state 8,414 residents deaths and 148 staff deaths.
According to the state dashboard with 64.3% of all New Jersey schools reporting, new student cases totaled 10,938 and new staff cases 2,586 in the last week as of Jan. 23. Cumulatively, 117,884 cases have been reported— 92,102 students and 25,782 staffers.
In regards to outbreaks related to in-school transmissions as of Jan. 26, the state has tracked 465 school outbreaks and 3,138 cases linked to those outbreaks since the 2021/2022 school year starting Aug. 7, up 33 outbreaks and 455 cases from the week previous.
Outbreaks are defined as three or more laboratory confirmed COVID-19 cases among students or staff with onsets within a 14 day period, linked within the school setting, do not share a household, and were not identified as close contacts of each other in another setting during standard case investigation or contact tracing.
For North Jersey in the new report, Bergen County has 54 confirmed outbreaks with 296 cases, Morris County has 36 confirmed outbreaks with 220 cases, Essex County has 28 confirmed outbreaks with 208 cases, Sussex has 33 confirmed outbreaks with 179 cases, Passaic County has 21 confirmed outbreaks with 178 cases, Hudson County has 18 confirmed outbreaks with 89 cases and Warren County has two confirmed outbreaks with 15 cases.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 13,442,842 in-state, plus an additional 548,395 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 13,991,237 as of Feb. 1.
Of those who have received the vaccine, 6,382,490 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 219,867 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 6,602,357. A total of 76% of those eligible are fully vaccinated in New Jersey and 90% have received at least one dose.
State officials reported boosters and third shots of 1,484,193 for Pfizer and 1,232,177 for Moderna. A total of 58,923 New Jerseyans have received their Johnson & Johnson booster shot. Overall, 2,775,293 have received a booster or third shot. Overall, 49% of those eligible have received their booster.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has 700,971 residents fully vaccinated, Essex 566,263, Hudson 506,963, Morris 377,004, Passaic 344,024, Sussex 90,330, and Warren 58,696.