New COVID poll: Democrats have a ‘particularly negative’ outlook, are most likely to keep wearing masks

People are becoming more concerned about COVID-19 amid the recent uptick in cases and new variants, according to Gallup’s latest quarterly poll.

Gallup polled more than 5,000 U.S. adults between Aug. 29 and Sept. 5.

Thirty percent of respondents said they believe the pandemic is getting worse — up from 5% in late May/early June and 8% in February, according to a news release on Gallup’s website.

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Although Gallup noted that this is the “highest rate of pessimism” since July 2022, it is far more positive than in 2020, when up to 73% of Americans said the pandemic was getting worse.

Despite the increase of worried Americans, the largest share (41%) said they believe the COVID situation is improving. 

Another 30% said it is remaining the same, Gallup noted.

Woman in mask

People are becoming more concerned about COVID-19 amid the recent uptick in cases and new variants, according to Gallup’s latest quarterly poll. (iStock)

About 25% of people in the U.S. said they are at least “somewhat” worried about getting infected with COVID, up from 18% in May/June.

Thirty-six percent are “not too worried,” and 37% are “not worried at all,” the poll found.

Thirty percent of respondents said they believe the pandemic is getting worse, up from 5% in late May/early June and 8% in February.

Despite the uptick, that is still less than half the share of people who were worried in 2020, when 59% were concerned.

Overall, the majority of Americans (53%) still believe the pandemic is over, although this is a decrease from 64% in May/June.

Outlooks vary by political party

Among political parties, all are more likely to say the COVID situation is worsening — but “Democrats have grown particularly negative about the trajectory,” stated the Gallup news release.

Woman in grocery stores

A little over half the respondents, or 55%, said they never wear a mask, while 45% said they still wear one at least some of the time. (iStock)

The share of Democrats who feel the situation has worsened has risen from 6% in May/June to 44% in September.

Among Republicans, only 16% believe the situation has gotten worse.

“Meanwhile, the smaller changes seen this quarter in Americans’ concern about getting the coronavirus and belief the pandemic is over can be attributed mainly to Democrats,” the Gallup release stated.

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Democrats’ concern about getting COVID rose from 26% to 41%; yet this fear did not rise for Republicans or independents compared to the last poll.

While 51% of Democrats thought the pandemic was over last quarter, only 35% feel that way now.

Throwing away mask

While 51% of Democrats thought the pandemic was over last quarter, only 35% feel that way now, according to a new Gallup poll.  (iStock)

Meanwhile, 77% of Republicans and 57% of independents believe it’s over.

Most people are still not wearing masks, poll finds

The poll also asked U.S. adults about their stance on masking.

A little over half of respondents, or 55%, said they never wear a mask, while 45% still wear one at least some of the time.

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Of the 45%, only 6% wear one always or very often, 11% said they do so sometimes and 28% said they wear one only rarely.

Democrats are much more likely to wear a mask currently — 25% of the Democrats who answered the survey wear one at least sometimes, compared to 15% of independents and only 6% of Republicans.

family wearing masks on walk

Democrats are much more likely to wear a mask currently — 25% of the members of that party who responded to the poll said they wear one at least sometimes, compared to 15% of independents and only 6% of Republicans. (iStock)

Those who said they still do wear masks provided the following reasons for doing so, according to Gallup:

  • 13% say they are immunocompromised and protecting themselves from COVID-19
  • 35% say they are not immunocompromised but wear masks for protection anyway
  • 11% say they are following CDC guidelines to wear one for other people’s protection
  • 19% say they are protecting themselves from poor air quality
  • 22% mentioned other reasons not related to COVID-19

COVID is ‘back on the radar,’ says Dr. Siegel

COVID is “back on the radar,” according to Dr. Marc Siegel, clinical professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center and a Fox News medical contributor — but the responses are mixed, from fear to denial to fatigue, he said. 

“The most important thing, and this is what I tell my patients, is that we have tools now that we didn’t have before — rapid tests, Paxlovid, vaccines, even masks, which you can get some benefit from if a proper-fitting, high-grade mask is worn in a high-risk setting for a high-risk patient,” noted Siegel.

“I have the tools to help my patients, so for the most part, the worry is much less.”

While the doctor does not believe that COVID is over, he said that because there is “significant remaining immunity in the community,” the current version appears to be much more of an upper respiratory virus than the original.

Woman flu

The revival of the COVID conversation stems from the time of year and cold and flu season, said a board-certified family medicine physician in Miami. (iStock)

“I have the tools to help my patients, so for the most part, the worry is much less,” Siegel said.

“The time for COVID hysteria — both among those who are petrified and among those who would deny it — is over.”

Cold and flu season plays a part, says Dr. Laura Purdy

Dr. Laura Purdy, a board-certified family medicine physician in Miami, said she believes the revival of the COVID conversation stems from entering cold and flu season.

“This time of year, patients in general have concerns about getting sick and what they can personally do to protect themselves,” she told Fox News Digital.

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“We’re going to see COVID cases because this is the time of year when people catch and transmit viruses more easily, and it seems most of the population is aware of that,” Purdy continued. 

“So these concerns are valid, since we will most likely see a rise in numbers.”

“The time for COVID hysteria — both among those who are petrified and among those who would deny it — is over.”

For those who are concerned about the health risks of getting COVID, Purdy suggested taking protective measures. 

“If that is getting a COVID vaccine, washing hands frequently or wearing a mask, they should do that,” she said. 

Woman getting vaccine

For those who are concerned about the health risks of getting COVID, one doctor suggests taking protective measures: “If that is getting a COVID vaccine, washing hands frequently or wearing a mask, then do that.” (iStock)

Practicing good hygiene and handwashing practices is always a good rule of thumb during flu season, the doctor noted. 

“Each person is going to pick and choose how they would like to protect themselves and others during this season,” Purdy said. 

“If you have any questions or concerns about how you can best protect yourself and what to do if you get sick, consult your doctor,” she also said.

Context is key, says Dr. Brett Osborn 

Dr. Brett Osborn, a neurologist and longevity expert in Florida, said there’s a need for context when considering the rise in COVID-related hospital admissions.

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“There has been a spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations during September — and the poll makes reference to the first week of September only — but the curve is already flattening,” he told Fox News Digital. 

This is shown in the updated CDC data from Sept. 25, Osborn noted. “There has been a 4.3% decrease in COVID-related hospitalizations as of the most recent week.”

Man with doctor

COVID-19 and its subvariants will closely mirror the flu, said one doctor. “This is how I counsel my patients,” he said. “In that regard, there has not been a single patient in my practice who has voiced concerns about COVID.” (iStock)

As time goes by, Osborn predicts that COVID-19 and its subvariants will closely mirror the flu.

“This is how I counsel my patients,” he said. “In that regard, there has not been a single patient in my practice who has voiced concerns about COVID.”

“COVID is here to stay. There is nothing we can do about this very basic epidemiologic fact.”

As far as the people who believe the pandemic is getting worse, Osborn described that as “a misrepresentation of reality.”

“This is simply a virus being a virus, nothing more,” he said. 

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“We can expect more of these sporadic peaks in the future, but they will likely be of low amplitude, as is the case here, and of far less clinical relevance than during the 2020 pandemic.”

The doctor added, “COVID is here to stay. There is nothing we can do about this very basic epidemiologic fact.”

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