Coronavirus fatigue may be setting in as more see pandemic as economic crisis

WASHINGTON — New data from the NBC|SurveyMonkey Weekly Tracking Poll show signs that coronavirus fatigue is setting in for the nation.

American adults still view the pandemic as predominantly a health crisis, and the majority are worried that businesses are opening too soon.

But there’s been an increase since July in the share of Americans who see the pandemic as primarily an economic crisis and in the share who worry that businesses are taking too long to reopen.

Fifty-four percent of adults say it’s a bigger concern that businesses are reopening too quickly, compared to 42 percent who are more worried about their opening too slowly. But back in early July, 63 percent saw businesses’ reopening too quickly as the bigger concern, compared to 33 percent who were more worried about slower reopenings.

There’s also been some leveling out between those who see the pandemic as more of an economic crisis and those who see it as more of a health crisis.

Fifty-two percent say it’s more of a health crisis, while 47 percent say it’s more of an economic crisis. In early July, 56 percent said the pandemic was more of a health crisis, while 43 percent said it was more of an economic crisis.

Six months after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic, American life and the economy have been dealt a harsh blow. There have been more than 6.3 million coronavirus cases in the U.S., and 190,000 deaths have been attributed to the virus. After the unemployment rate skyrocketed to 14.7 percent in April, the highest since the Great Depression, it fell to 8.4 percent in August, still more than twice the pre-coronavirus unemployment rate.

While the federal government had previously agreed on a handful of aid measures to shore up the economy and protect Americans, the latest round of negotiations between the White House and Congress fell apart last month. President Donald Trump sought to sidestep the gridlock with a series of executive orders, but critics have questioned whether the measures will be effective or are even legal.

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The shift comes as more facets of American life are returning to some semblance of normal — professional sports have been restarting, many states have relaxed coronavirus-related restrictions, and some schools have started opening with a mix of in-person and virtual options.

A majority of American adults with school-age children say at least some of their children’s learning will be conducted online this year as many schools remain partly closed.

Forty-eight percent of adults with children in school say their children will get all of their lessons online, and 24 percent say there will be a mix of in-person and remote learning. Another 20 percent of adults with children in school say their children will have all of their instruction in person.

About a month ago, 17 percent of parents said their kids would fully return to school in person, and 41 percent said their children would be taught remotely online.

However, most parents don’t feel confident in the quality of education their children will get this year. When asked to grade the quality of education their children will have because of the coronavirus pandemic, just 18 percent of parents gave it an “A” and 26 percent said “B,” while a third — 33 percent — gave it a “C.” Another 13 percent of adults with children said their children would receive a “D”-quality education this fall, and 10 percent said it would be an “F.”

Public health experts have warned that fully reopening businesses and schools could hinge on widespread adoption of a coronavirus vaccine. And while a plurality of American adults say they and their families would get a government-approved coronavirus vaccine if one becomes available, a majority of adults say they either wouldn’t or aren’t sure.

Forty percent of adults say they would get a government-approved vaccine, 24 percent say they wouldn’t, and 34 percent say they aren’t sure.

Trump has repeatedly said a vaccine could be ready for distribution before the Nov. 3 election, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has told states to be ready for wide distribution by Nov. 1. But there are concerns that that timeline could be too fast, and scientists have asked to see the data that would support a fast-tracked strategy.

Data come from a set of SurveyMonkey online polls conducted Aug. 31-Sept. 6, 2020, among a national sample of 35,847 adults in the U.S. Respondents were selected from the more than 2 million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day. The modeled error estimate for this survey is plus or minus 1.0 percentage points. Data have been weighted for age, race, sex, education and geography using the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to reflect the demographic composition of the United States ages 18 and over.

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