A new poll suggests the majority of Americans are not concerned with the potential threat of the Covid variant Omicron, with many unwilling to change their behavior to minimize risk from the new virus strain.
The Axios-Ipsos poll, published on Tuesday, found a majority are only willing to mask up in indoor spaces open to the public, with 62% saying they are "most likely" to do this as the new variant spreads.
Americans are much less willing to accept broader changes to their lifestyles that echo early shutdown restrictions put in place last year in response to the pandemic.
Only 33% said they were willing to cease dining indoors at restaurants, while only 13% said they'd be willing to work remotely from home. Less than 30% of respondents said they were willing to stop gathering with other households, while just 23% said they would likely cancel their holiday travel plans.
A majority of respondents, out of 1021 total, were open to other restrictions, such as businesses mandating masks and travel bans on countries where Omicron has been prevalent. President Joe Biden announced travel restrictions on multiple nations in Africa following the discovery of Omicron last month. Multiple cases of the new variant have since been found in the US, with health officials warning that more should be expected.
As is typical with any poll related to Covid-19 behaviors and government measures, those who identified as Republican were much less willing to change their personal behavior. Only 38% said they'd be willing to mask in public, for instance, while over 80% of Democrats said they are likely to use face coverings.
Health officials have warned Omicron could trigger a large increase in coronavirus cases during the winter months, but there is still very little known about the variant. The Axios poll reflected this, with 47% of respondents saying they are "very or somewhat" familiar with the variant, while another 47% revealed they know nothing about it.
White House medical adviser Anthony Fauci said this week that Omicron is "clearly highly transmissible" but that it "almost certainly is not more severe" than the earlier Delta variant.