CBS News poll finds less concern about new COVID variants now than with Omicron

Despite a recent increase in COVID cases and new variants, most Americans are not worried about getting COVID. In fact, the nation is expressing less concern than it has ever done since the beginning of the pandemic.

There is less concern specifically around new variants today than there was around the Omicron variant when it appeared in late 2021.



In this poll, made just before the announcement of FDA approval of new boostersthose affected were also more likely to say they would get a booster.

As has long been the case with the coronavirus, concern, awareness and action are all linked: 40% report following news about the new variants at least somewhat closely, and those most concerned follow the news more.

And views on COVID remain highly partisan, as they have been for years. Democrats are relatively more worried than Republicans today, and more likely to say they plan to get boosters in the fall.

For context, as vaccines became available, polls consistently showed similar splits, with vaccine uptake for Democrats exceeding that of Republicans. (Investigations also subsequently showed various death rates in Republican-leaning counties.)


And along those lines, Republicans are both the most pessimistic about the nation’s efforts and also the least concerned, suggesting that some of the national assessment is more a partisan expression against the party in power than a clinical assessment of risk.

Overall, a slight majority of Americans are optimistic about the nation’s response to the virus in the coming months. It’s not overwhelming, and it’s highly partisan, with Democrats far more optimistic than Republicans. But that’s more optimism than Americans show about other issues, such as the economy or prices.


This CBS News/YouGov survey was conducted with a nationally representative sample of 2,335 U.S. adults interviewed between May 5-8. September 2023. The sample was weighted by sex, age, race, and education based on the US Census American Community Survey and Current Population Survey, as well as previous polling. The margin of error is ±2.7 points.


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