One or more new varieties of covid are being reported, and cases are rising. This news is welcomed by the fascists among us, who already are calling for shutdowns and masks. Others–the majority, one hopes–vow not to comply with another round of repression.
So what do most Americans think? This CBS News poll offers some answers at a very high level:
Despite a recent rise in COVID cases and new variants, most Americans aren’t concerned about getting COVID. In fact, the nation voices less concern than it ever has since the start of the pandemic.
There is less concern specifically about new variants today than there was about the Omicron variant as it was emerging in late 2021.
That is accurate, but the numbers are not as strong as one would hope:
Essentially half of Americans are “concerned” about what, at this point, is one of several coronaviruses that comprise the common cold. How deep that concern runs remains to be seen.
This is a slightly different question, which also provides some historical context:
The partisan divide on covid continues, and I’m sure has widened:
[V]iews about COVID remain heavily partisan, as they’ve been for years. Democrats are relatively more concerned than Republicans today, and more likely to say they plan to get boosters in the fall.
CBS being CBS, it comes down on the side of the Democrats:
[A]s vaccines became available, polling showed similar splits consistently, and vaccine uptake for Democrats outpaced that for Republicans. (Studies also subsequently showed differing death rates in Republican-leaning counties.)
The study that CBS linked to is one of the dumbest of recent times. It doesn’t even purport to distinguish death rates between vaccinated and unvaccinated people. Most likely, death rates by county reflect the percentage of residents over the age of 80.
And in that line, Republicans are both the most pessimistic about the nation’s efforts and also the least concerned, suggesting that some of the national evaluation is more of a partisan expression against the party in power than a clinical evaluation of the risk.
Got that? Republicans are irrationally expressing antagonism toward the party in power, while Democrats are clinically evaluating the risk of covid. Left unconsidered is the possibility–the reality, in my opinion–that Democrats are expressing loyalty toward the party in power by signing up for ever more boosters, while Republicans are acting more in tune with an objective evaluation of the risk and of the benefits of ever more boosters.
These numbers represent a sort of opening salvo as covid appears on the horizon. The rubber will hit the road (to mix metaphors) when totalitarians renew their call for more government domination over our lives. At this point, I am disappointed that so many describe themselves as “concerned.” We will find out what they mean by that in due course.