Pandemic over? 4 in 10 Americans say life fully back to normal

PHILADELPHIA — The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect society, but after two years, many Americans have decided it’s over. With the lifting of masking restrictions and test requirements, even those that have been masking indoors are returning to pre-pandemic behavior. Now, a new survey has found that more than half of Americans are ignoring COVID precautions such as mask-wearing, despite the possible health risks to themselves and others.

When asked when things will start getting back to normal, four in 10 people say it already happened. Another 42 percent predict it’ll be another year before things get back to normal. Twenty-three percent say we’ll likely live with the virus forever.

“After more than two years of experience with COVID-19 and its effects, the public is largely aware of the nature and risks of infection,” says Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, in a media release. “A consistent percentage does not believe a pre-COVID normal will ever be restored. But a growing number have returned to their pre-COVID life. One can only hope that those in each group have accurately calculated the risks and benefits that their decision entails.”

Vaccines are changing everything

One reason 41 percent of Americans are going back to their pre-pandemic ways — a noticeable increase from the 16 percent in January 2022 — is because of access to vaccines. Nearly four in five (78%) respondents say they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, compared to 74 percent in November 2021. Fully vaccinated for this survey means at least two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson shot. Among vaccinated Americans, 77 percent have gotten a booster shot. Sixty-five percent had one booster while 35 percent have received two boosters.

After multiple waves of COVID, more than half of Americans (54%) personally know someone who died because of the virus. More than half of survey respondents say they had COVID-19 or were sure they had it at some point since April 2021. Although it’s no substitute for a vaccine, studies show past infections can produce antibodies that can also protect against future infections.

Compared to a previous survey, fewer Americans are worried about contracting COVID today. However, more people seem to be worried about their close relatives being exposed to the virus. With any COVID-19 infection, vaccinated or not, there is always a risk of having long COVID. More people (71%) are now fully aware of the deleterious effects of long COVID, such as neurological issues and chronic fatigue. Despite that knowledge, fewer people are worried about getting long COVID (40%) now than in January (47%).

Another tool in the pandemic toolbox that may have eased COVID concerns is the FDA’s approval of Paxlovid. While 79 percent say they are unfamiliar with the drug, 61 percent find it to be a safe and effective treatment. Paxlovid is prescribed for mild to moderate COVID infection among people at high-risk of severe illness, hospitalization, or death.

Few Americans fear COVID variants

Breakthrough infections among fully vaccinated individuals have also gone up with more contagious and immune-evasive variants. Nearly two in three people (64%) believe vaccination does not fully protect against infection and 56 percent know someone who was sick but fully vaccinated. Despite all the risks COVID brings, 54 percent are not wearing a mask anymore when indoors and outside their home.

“The wiliness of the newer subvariants and the realities that vaccinated immunity wanes and breakthrough infections can occur, among even those who are vaccinated and boosted, have increased the importance of other modes of protection,” says Jamieson. “These forms of protection include the use of high-quality, well-fitted masks when indoors with others who are not part of our households. Sadly, we are seeing a dramatic drop in this simple form of protection.”

About the Author

Jocelyn Solis-Moreira

Jocelyn is a New York-based science journalist whose work has appeared in Discover Magazine, Health, and Live Science, among other publications. She holds a Master’s of Science in Psychology with a concentration in behavioral neuroscience and a Bachelor’s of Science in integrative neuroscience from Binghamton University. Jocelyn has reported on several medical and science topics ranging from coronavirus news to the latest findings in women’s health.

The contents of this website do not constitute advice and are provided for informational purposes only. See our full disclaimer


  1. thk god i never wore a mask, never social distanced, never tested, never used hand sanitizer, never had a flu shot or the weak rona flu shot. played hoops with groups of guys during the whole BS.

    1. GOD had nothing to do with your choices that helped contribute to the over 1 million dead.

      109,538 AUG 10 2022
      118,090 AUG 10 2021

      881 AUG 10 2022
      608 AUG 10 2021

      Mind over matter is selfishness.

      1. Your a brainwashed momo if you think “he contributed to 1 million dead”
        Wake up. You got scammed by the left wing for the 1000th time in a row and still havent noticed the pattern

        1. Your lying to keep going in your direction will send you right into a wall.

          You deserve to die from it, but not your victims.

      2. People lie, numbers don’t.
        In 2017, 2018, 2019 unfortunately, but it is how life works, an average 7700 people died each day in the US. It will come out that the numbers were quite the same in 2020, 2021 with a possible slight rise due to population increases. People lie, numbers don’t.

      3. There’s literally zero proof that masks work at all. And making people stay inside most likely made it worse. How exactly do you explain Florida’s number being similar to California”s to spite being the oldest state in the country. Get over yourself and stop being so scared.

        1. You desperate people will say ANYTHING to get your selfish way.

          Masks catch vapors. Vaporous water droplets are like little earths, and the tiny virus are like the people on these “earths”—-MASKS STOP THE MICROSCOPIC DROPLETS.

          It isn’t that you haven’t been educated.

          I cheer your getting it and dying.

        2. Do you ever speak the truth?

          Masks are great for stopping water droplets from breath.

          Virus hide in that water.

          You lose.

          1. Your a liar, writer. These are the most deadly vaccines in US history. The vaxx does not protect you, but suppresses your immune system. The author is a parrot, not a honest writer. Vaccinated have a 4,400% higher chace of getting covid and dying compared to unvaxxed. Liars should be liable.

    2. I was just about to post the same thing. I never wore a mask. Not one day. I have a Bio degree and understood the (negligible) risk from the beginning. I didn’t appreciated the disinformation from the Fauci regime.

  2. Not vaccinated, have antibodies and will never buy into this propaganda. You need to provide the scientific data that antibodies don’t work compared to the vaccine if you’re going to say antibodies are no substitute. Even then, I choose to remain at zero risk of vaccine injury, especially since no one will be held liable for injury.

      1. Stop lieing. Anti-bodies worked far better than the vaccine. Buy your own logic if you’re using the vaccine instead of antibodies you’re the one contributing to the dead lol

    1. I am 68 not vaxed I think I had it but it was probably a sinus infection. The only time I ever wore a mask was for my Dentist office

  3. Human life goes on. We’re not meant to remain in lockdowns or isolation. It’s just not in our species to do so. We get these pandemics once or twice a century. Millions die. It’s sad and sucks but human life goes on.

    1. That’s a lie.

      All the safety measures made it turn out as well as it did today. You’re just taking advantage of it.

      109,538 AUG 10 2022
      118,090 AUG 10 2021

      881 AUG 10 2022
      608 AUG 10 2021

      Mind over matter is the 3 stooges.

      1. Tim please stop spreading lunatic left wing lies. Florida has ZERO restrictions and did better than failed fascist state of commiefornia ROFL

      2. I hate to break it to you, but people die from disease every day, and have since the beginning of time. Stop looking at the numbers, and just live your life.
        I literally know 100s of people that I interact with for work and old friends. I only know one who died from COVID, and she was vaccinated. There’s no fix.

      3. So the Left is admitting that Trump oversaw a well-managed response to the Epidemic.
        Good job, President Trump!

  4. This article is a mess. Covid is over, but not for a vast majority of people. It is over because of the vaccines, but they allow spread and mutation, and covid is much worse than a cold or flu for at least 1 in 5 people even when vaccinated. The new pills have also made people worry less, but almost no ody knows about them. I’m feeling schizophrenic.

    1. Turn Off your TV and you’ll be fine. If you made the mistake of taking a dangerous experimental “vaccine”, then “I-told-you-so”s are in order. Never ever trust the goverment, which now includes biopharma.

  5. I genuinely don’t understand the 54% figure not wearing a mask that ostensibly shows up in this poll. I live in a strong Democrat area in Maryland and based on what I see at grocery stores I’d say about 80% don’t wear masks anymore, and if I were going based on the gym, 95% don’t wear masks anymore. In risk of projecting, I just can’t see 46% of Americans wearing masks still. That does not in any way reflect my reality in *MARYLAND*.

    1. I too, am very confused where these masking numbers come from, unless they just luck up on finding a larger than average pool of people that still mask.

      I flew about two weeks after the transportation mandate was struck down in court, and maybe 5-10% of the people I saw at the airports were masked in the terminals. A small handful more donned one before actually boarding the airplane. Which struck me as odd as the ventilation and air filtering is better in the airplane than in the terminal!

      Where I work (in a very strong blue area of N Va) there are a small number of people (I’d say less than 10, out of a building of ~400) that still wear them religiously. When I bother to shop in that county it is has been very rare to see anyone masked. I’m sure those that do are the ones that were screaming at the school board and other government agencies that hordes would die if they dropped masking mandates. Nobody else seems to care anymore.

  6. lmao people havent been wearing masks and have been living their lives since summer 2020 where I live.

  7. Why would anyone want to take a chance on getting the Virus. People are still dying from the Virus. So I would rather take all the precautions I can then Die. Fully boosting, and wearing a mask is a small price to pay for staying Well ,and not dying. And with all the Migrants coming into America not vaccinated, the chances of getting sick are better than ever! So don’t believe the Pandemic is over!!

  8. 4 in 10 are the ones that get it an past it on, why it will never go away, wear a mask and will keep wearing one

  9. I am now recovering from COVID for the second time in two years.
    Those who think it is a joke or a hoax are simply foolish.
    I truly feel sorry for people who ignore the warnings and end up as sick as I’ve been for almost three weeks.
    I am healthy with a strong immune system, but so many where I live are becoming sick with COVID. It is foolish people who refuse to take heed that are causing the upswing in cases.

    1. I assume you are fully vaccinated and wear a mask. It’s remarkable that you’ve had COVID twice. Obviously neither worked very well.

      1. What I think is particularly interesting – although entirely anecdotal, is that the only people I know of, or heard of on the news (including Biden) that get COVID multiple times are the fully vaccinated people. People that had the actual virus and recovered (Like Trump) seem to only get it once, develop natural immunity and are done getting sick. Its likely because vaccine wanes off quickly and because when you do get COVID after getting vaccinated, you do not develop the same level of natural immunity you would if were unvaccinated.

        So I guess, in truth, vaccines do little to nothing to stop the spread or the actual disease, in fact they may contribute to re-infection, but the more serious complications and death is lowered with the vaccines for certain portion of the population with serious co-morbidities.

  10. What a crock. With 100% of the vaccinated I know having gotten Covid, and 0% of the vaccinated not being sick to any concern, whoever wrote this “access to vaccines” delusion may be crooked. I personally know 7 people who have died immediately after the vaccine or booster, 3 which have died within a few months after, and 4 which are permanently injured. What a horrible scam.

  11. What a crock. With 100% of the vaccinated I know having gotten Covid, and 0% of the unvaccinated not being sick to any concern, whoever wrote this “access to vaccines” delusion may be crooked. I personally know 7 people who have died immediately after the vaccine or booster, 3 which have died within a few months after, and 4 which are permanently injured. What a horrible scam.

  12. damn another example of different worlds.. city folks are living in fear and rural don’t even know there is still something out there.. there isn’t 1 in 10 wearing mask or even thinking about it.. ya we are still getting it but its just another flu.. over it in a few days and back to work.

  13. This article has so much mis-interpreted and misinformation it’s stunning. Stunning! This was supposedly a terrible pandemic and only 54% even KNEW someone who died!? And the claim that a vaccine would be superior to natural immunity? That’s preposterous! 61% knew a drug was effective—though 79% were unfamiliar with it. How does that work? This is what is called science today.

  14. “While 79 percent say they are unfamiliar with the drug, 61 percent find it to be a safe and effective treatment.”

    So, if you can do math, at least 40% of America is both unfamiliar with Paxlovid and find it to be a safe and effective treatment? Here’s a quick reporting pro-tip: polls aren’t real, poll numbers are meaningless, and copy-pasting numbers from polls into your stories isn’t research.

  15. It’s laughable that this insanity is still being pushed. This article is a copy and paste every three months or so. If you want to wear a mask that’s fine. The last time I wore a mask was when I was 12 on Halloween.

  16. Who even believes this? 40%… more like 90% and that was 1 year ago they were over it… around here (Florida) it’s been at least 80 to 90% over it for years… and Paxolivd, yea doctor’s “KNOW” about it, and almost no one is taking that pill… literly everyone I know, chose to “tough it out” with covid 2.0 vs take the Pax.

  17. Living here in uber-liberal Seattle is like being in another world. In going to the market I am STILL seeing roughly 50% masked up. A day ago I actually saw a woman driving alone wearing a mask. “Paranoia will destroy ya”; Ray Davies and the Kinks. Seems a mask is STILL a fashion a accessory and a statement. I like the word obtuse, a lot.

  18. “Although it’s no substitute for a vaccine, studies show past infections can produce antibodies that can also protect against future infections.”

    What studies? The study you cited is from 2021 and is primarily talking about antibodies from predecessors to COVID-19. Every study I have seen suggests 15 months of protection from infection as compared to 3 months from the “vaccines”. Some studies even suggest negative protection after 3 months unless you recieve a booster.

    Is this what “science is real” means? Use studies to prove whatever your preconceived notion is even if there is no data to back it up?

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