40% of Americans say they've returned to pre-COVID life, study finds

Customers wait in line at a Kroger grocery store on July 15, 2022 in Houston, Texas.
Customers wait in line at a Kroger grocery store on July 15, 2022 in Houston, Texas. Photo credit Getty Images

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS RADIO) – A survey released by the University of Pennsylvania shows that four in ten Americans say they've decided to return to "normal pre-pandemic life."

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In July, the Penn Annenberg Public Policy Center conducted a national survey, collecting data on 1,580 U.S. adults. Despite knowing the risks of coronavirus, 40% of the subjects admitted they've returned to their pre-COVID-19 lives — a number which has more than doubled over the past six months.

Dr. Amesh Adalja, Senior Scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told KCBS Radio's "Ask An Expert" the results are not surprising.

"I think it's understandable that people are done with the pandemic because you have to actually see where we've been and where we've gotten to," Adalja said. "I think that people are learning how to risk-acclimatize something that’s never going to go away. Our goal was always to tame it, not to eliminate or eradicate it."

In the past year alone, COVID-19 has evolved into a significantly more manageable infection due to help from vaccines, boosters, antivirals and monoclonal antibodies. It now may be possible for some to begin thinking of coronavirus as a seasonal infection like the common cold, Adalja said.

"If you're a healthy person who's fully vaccinated, in general you're going to be protected against serious illness, you're not going to be hospitalized, and I think, in that sense, you can think about it on par with other respiratory infections that you get," he explained.

The study also revealed that over half of Americans — 54% — say they rarely or never wear a mask indoors with people from outside their household. 71% said they know that long COVID may occur after infection, but 20% said they aren't sure that coronavirus is the cause.

"A consistent percentage (of people) does not believe a pre-Covid normal will ever be restored. But a growing number have returned to their pre-Covid life," said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center. "One can only hope that those in each group have accurately calculated the risks and benefits that their decision entails."

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Getty Images