Strong concern about a second wave of coronavirus infections is reinforcing widespread opposition among Americans to reopening public places, a new poll finds, even as many state leaders step up efforts to return to life before the pandemic.
The poll finds that 83% of Americans are at least somewhat concerned that lifting restrictions in their area will lead to additional infections, with 54% saying they are very or extremely concerned that such steps will result in a spike of COVID-19 cases.
About 8 in 10 Americans say that it's essential to reopening for people to return to self-quarantine if they are exposed to the virus. Roughly 6 in 10 also say having widespread testing for the coronavirus in their area is essential to reestablishing public activities, along with requiring people to keep six feet apart in most places and to wear face masks when they're near others outside their homes.
Nearly as telling as the public's appetite for rigorous precaution: close to half say it is essential that a vaccine be available before public life resumes. Another third say that's important, although not essential.
Taken together, the findings suggest that while some Americans are anxious to get back to business as usual, most don’t see the country returning anytime soon to what once was considered normal. Instead, Americans largely envision a protracted period of physical distancing, covered faces and intermittent quarantines ahead, perhaps until a vaccine is available.
In other developments:
- President Donald Trump says he wants to hold up coronavirus funding for Michigan and Nevada because the two battleground states are trying to make it easier to vote during the outbreak. Trump erroneously said Michigan was sending absentee ballots to all its voters, when the state actually announced it will be sending applications for the absentee ballots. Nevada actually sent ballots to voters for its June 9 primary, a move by the Republican secretary of state that was cleared by a federal judge.
- Trump said Wednesday that he's considering holding a meeting in the U.S. with the leaders of the world's major economies after all because it would be a “great sign to all” of things returning to normal during the coronavirus pandemic. Trump had scheduled the Group of Seven summit for June 10-12 at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland. But in March, he announced he was canceling the annual G7 meeting because of the pandemic and that the leaders would confer by video conference instead.
- The NCAA Division I Council debated Wednesday whether to let a moratorium on voluntary workouts on campus expire at the end of the month as a growing number of college leaders express confidence that fall sports will be played in some form.
- Police ticketed three people for cutting hair during a protest outside the Michigan Capitol, where about a dozen barbers and hair stylists defied stay-at-home orders to give free hair cuts Wednesday.
- The rate of fatal automobile crashes in the U.S. jumped dramatically in March even as people drove fewer miles due to stay-at-home orders.
- A Missouri man has been put to death for fatally stabbing an 81-year-old woman nearly three decades ago, the first U.S. execution since the coronavirus pandemic took hold. The execution of Walter Barton was the first in the U.S. since Nathaniel Woods was put to death in Alabama on March 5. Ohio, Tennessee and Texas were among states calling off executions, and Texas delayed six executions due to the pandemic.
- The German government is banning use of subcontractors in the meat industry following a series of COVID-19 outbreaks linked to slaughterhouses. The proposal would require an industry that relies heavily on migrant workers from Eastern Europe to directly employ employees involved in slaughtering and meat processing.
- State-run media in Zimbabwe say close to two dozen people have escaped from coronavirus quarantine centers and others are illegally crossing the border from South Africa and not reporting to the centers. Hundreds of people have arrived by busload from South Africa, which has the highest number of confirmed infections in Africa, more than 17,000.
- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says the largest city in the U.S. will offer free coronavirus tests at its 169 nursing homes and will provide staff to replace nursing home employees who test positive for the virus.
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