Social Distancing Is in Decline: Poll

Percentage of Americans mostly isolating themselves falls 17 points
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 15, 2020 4:35 PM CDT
Social Distancing Is in Decline: Poll
Customers wear masks and keep to social distancing guidelines as they shop Thursday at a Trader Joe's store in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Most Americans practice social distancing when they leave the house—and they're heading out more often now—but far fewer say they follow the guidelines than did a couple of weeks ago. A Gallup Poll released Friday showed a drop of 17 percentage points since late March, USA Today reports. The change isn't limited to states that are reopening. "It's certainly in those states," said a Gallup editor, "but it's also in the states that aren't loosening their restrictions as well." Conducted May 4-10, the poll found 58% of Americans said they are either completely or mostly isolating themselves during the pandemic, a drop from the high point of 75% between March 30 and April 4, and a decline from 68% of those surveyed April 20-26. States that still have stay-at-home orders, including California and New York, showed drops, per the Hill, leading Gallup to suggest other factors are at work.

"In a lot of these states, even the worst ones, the curve has flattened a little bit," the editor said, "so maybe people are feeling a little braver about going out than they used to." More people surveyed said they'd gone out in public in the past 24 hours, including 49% who had gone to the grocery store and 19% who had visited someone's home. Part of the reason for the change could be what Gallup referred to as social distancing fatigue. And protests of the restrictions could have affected attitudes. Still, 68% of those living in states without stay-at-home orders said staying home as much as possible is best, along with 77% of Americans who are under those restrictions. Gallup reported a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points for the poll. (More coronavirus stories.)

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