In June, 89% of Americans polled saw the COVID-19 outbreak as improving, with just 3% saying it was worsening. That was before the delta variant of the coronavirus made itself felt. In July, the Gallup Poll reports, more adults expressed pessimism than optimism about the pandemic—45% to 40%. It's the first time since January that pessimism was the majority view. The web survey, released Monday, was conducted July 19-26 against a backdrop of surging cases. By a 6-point margin, the majority supported state guidelines calling for wearing face masks in public and social distancing; that was before the CDC changed its recommendations last week. As of mid-July, at least, increased concern about the disease hadn't driven more people to stay away from those outside their household, avoid public places, or cut back travel.
A Monmouth University poll released Monday found similar worries, with 65% of Americans concerned about the new surge, up from 57% in June. Overall, 48% are concerned about coming down with a newer coronavirus variant, but among those who say they won't get vaccinated, only 16% are. Nearly half of the Monmouth respondents attribute the increase in infections to people who have declined vaccinations, per CNN. Political party is an indicator: Of Democrat respondents, 85% back requiring masks to be worn, while 73% of Republicans are opposed, per Politico. The poll found that a narrow majority say President Biden and the governor of their state are handling the pandemic well, but most think the American public isn't. (The US reached its July 4 vaccination goal in August.)