Most Americans Say Second Covid Wave Will Come

But they told pollsters they still want to be able to get their hair cut.

Susan Bushman and Dave Sincovic were among the protesters demonstrating against stay-at-home orders at the Missouri State Capitol on April 21. (Courthouse News photo/Joe Harris)

(CN) — Even as the first wave of the novel coronavirus continues to sicken and kill people in the United States and around the world, a poll released Thursday shows most people believe a second wave will come — but many still want to keep beaches, churches and hair salons open.  

The Monmouth University poll shows that around two-thirds of public say they expect the second Covid-19 wave to hit the nation within the next year, echoing the warnings of health experts that a fresh surge of cases could be in our near future.  Only a quarter of Americans believe there won’t be a second surge and that Covid-19 cases will continue to decline.

Political ideologies play a role in how people view the coronavirus prospects, with an overwhelming 85% of Democrats and 76% of independents believing a second wave is on the horizon compared to just 41% of Republicans.

Despite the fears of the future, however, many Americans maintain that several businesses that have previously been labeled as nonessential should remain open.

Nearly half of those polled say public beaches should be open with either some social distancing restrictions in place or none at all. More than 40% of Americans also want playgrounds and places of worship open under the same circumstances, while roughly a quarter say the same about hair salons and barbershops.  

Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, said that these numbers suggest much of the country grows restless with the coronavirus health measures.

“Parts of America are starting to reopen, but much of the public remains leery because it doesn’t seem they are convinced the virus is under control. Still, there is evidence that a sizable minority are getting antsy about the current restrictions,” Murray said with the release of the poll.

People remain skeptical about the safety of other businesses and venues, however. Almost half say indoor arenas and public swimming pools should stay shuttered for the time being, while 40% say the same about movie theaters.

Only about a third say gyms and outdoor arenas should remain closed, and just 19% of Americans say the same for hair salons.

Murray notes the public seems to base much of their comfort levels when it comes to business operations on how close they have to be with other people — save one interesting outlier.

“The public is a little more hesitant about opening places that put you in close contact with other people. But there is a notable exception. Americans really want to get their hair cut,” Murray said.

As more states around the county begin to lift the restrictions on these businesses, many Americans continue to urge caution. The poll reports that 60% of Americans are worried restrictions are being lifted too quickly, largely consistent with the 63% who felt the same last month. Roughly a third of Americans say they are concerned restrictions are not being lifted quickly enough.

The poll also shows that when states and local governments make reopening decisions, most people think that public safety should be prioritized over economic interests. Over half of Americans think the most important factor to weigh during the reopening process is how to prevent people from contracting the coronavirus. Just 36% believe that preventing further economic downturn should be the top priority.

These feelings are, once again, largely influenced by party politics. 

A sizeable 82% of Democrats say that health concerns overtake economic ones, while 61% of Republicans say that concerns over the economy should be the driver behind reopening decisions. Independents are largely split down the middle on the issue.

Regardless of how they feel on reopening guidelines moving forward, most Americans are more apt to applaud the actions of their state during the pandemic than the actions of the federal government.

Only about a third of those polled say they think the federal government’s response to Covid-19 has been appropriate, while nearly half say the government has not gone far enough.

The numbers practically switch when people rate their own states, with 56% believing their state has done a good job in their Covid-19 response and 23% saying the opposite.

When evaluating the specific response of President Donald Trump, most Americans also report disappointment. The poll shows that 56% of Americans think he has done a poor job responding to the pandemic and just 42% approve his performance.

Thursday’s Monmouth University Poll contained a sample size of 807 adults and a 3.5% margin of error.

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