Poll: Nearly Half Believe Pre-Pandemic Normals Won’t Return

Although most COVID-19 mitigation mandates, from social distancing to mask use, have been dropped even in Democratic-led areas of the country, a new survey indicates that nearly half of all Americans do not believe life will ever completely return to normal.

More than three years after the virus began to spread around the world, Gallup News reported that 47% of U.S. adults surveyed said that they do not expect “pre-pandemic normalcy” to make a comeback.

That group, pollsters determined, “may be getting used to a ‘new normal’ that, for some, means occasional mask use, regular COVID-19 vaccines and avoidance of some situations that may put them at greater risk of infection, particularly at times when COVID-19 infections are spiking.”

The number has not changed since pollsters asked the same question in October, though it is about six points lower than in surveys conducted in July and August.

On the other hand, about one-third of respondents surveyed last month reported that their lives have returned to normal. That number was less than one-fourth in July and August. The percentage of those who say they expect a return to pre-COVID life at some point in the future has decreased from 23% to 20% over the same period.

While these numbers reflect the overall population, the responses vary significantly across demographics — particularly those related to political ideology.

According to the survey, self-described Republicans are significantly more likely than Democrats to determine that the pandemic is over and that their lives have already returned to normal. One-third of respondents aligned with the GOP said there will be no return to normal, compared with more than half of Democrats who said the same.

The Gallup report also identified differences based on income level and gender, determining: “Majorities of two typically Democratic-leaning groups — women and lower-income adults — say their lives will never be back to normal, while their counterparts are less likely to say as much.”

In general, 51% of women and 42% of men are pessimistic about the chances that pre-pandemic norms will ever return.

About a year ago, the Kaiser Family Foundation conducted its own survey and found that nearly four-fifths of the adults polled said that life will be measurably different in the post-pandemic era, determining that the percentage remained generally steady across political and other demographic lines.