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Nora Burlingame, 3, sits on the lap of her mother, Dina Burlingame, and gets a high five from nurse Luann Majeed after receiving her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination at UW Medical Center-Roosevelt on June 21, 2022, in Seattle.

Nora Burlingame, 3, sits on the lap of her mother, Dina Burlingame, and gets a high five from nurse Luann Majeed after receiving her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination at UW Medical Center-Roosevelt on June 21, 2022, in Seattle. (David Ryder, Getty Images/TNS)

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PHILADELPHIA (Tribune News Service) — It’s no secret that some people stopped taking precautions against COVID-19 ages ago. With infections now at a fairly low level, a growing number say their lives have returned to normal.

That’s one of the findings in the latest survey from the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, which has been tracking attitudes and behaviors toward COVID every few months since the spring of 2021.

In the latest survey, completed on July 18, a nationally representative sample of 1,580 people was polled via internet and telephone. Asked when they expected to return to their “normal” pre-COVID lives, 41% said they already had done so, up from 16% in January.

More than half said they never or rarely wore masks when indoors with people outside their households.

While the number of reported cases has been low by the standards of this pandemic, lately more than 400 people are dying each day from COVID, according to Covid Act Now, a pandemic tracking site — including 5 to 10 each day in Pennsylvania.

Physicians say most patients with severe cases of COVID either are unvaccinated, have underlying health conditions, or both.

The new survey was conducted on behalf of the Annenberg Center by SSRS, an independent research company, with a 3.3% margin of error.

One in five people surveyed said they never expected to return to their normal pre-COVID existence, said Annenberg Center director Kathleen Hall Jamieson.

“A consistent percentage does not believe a pre-COVID normal will ever be restored,” she said. “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.”

Never-maskers made up 27% of the total in the July survey, up from 12% in January. Yet a few still take the other extreme, with 3% saying they never go to places where they might encounter people outside their households — the same level as in January.

More than half of those surveyed (54%) said they personally knew at least one person who had died of COVID, and 31% said they knew someone who had experienced long COVID.

Yet half said they were not worried or “not too worried” that a family member’s health would be seriously affected by COVID.

The current low level of cases is likely the result of several factors, including the fact that school is out, and people are spending more time outside, according to Helix, a genetic testing company in San Mateo, Calif. Experts caution that cases may rise again the fall, when the CDC is recommending new booster shots that are tailored to the omicron variant.

Nearly 10% of recent infections have occurred in people who were infected before, according to Helix texting data.

Nearly all of these reinfections are occurring in people who were previously infected more than 90 days ago. Waning immunity is thought to be the primary culprit in these reinfections, rather than a “super fit” variant, the company’s researchers found.

©2022 The Philadelphia Inquirer, LLC.

Visit at inquirer.com.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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