Poll: In face of surge, voters favor masks, vaccine mandates


(NewsNation) — In the event of another COVID-19 surge, Americans would largely support renewed mask mandates, vaccine mandates and even new stay-home orders, according to a new NewsNation/Decision Desk HQ poll released Wednesday.

The poll was conducted Sunday and Monday. Recent mask rule changes and lifting of travel restrictions did not factor into the polling.

Voters’ fears of the COVID-19 pandemic have remained virtually unmoved since last month, with 63.2% saying they were at least somewhat concerned about the pandemic, a negligible change of one point since late March. When asked which was a bigger threat — COVID-19, inflation, unemployment or crime — 20% indicated they still feared the virus’ threat.

“Whether you’re Republican or Democrat, whether you’re small-government or big-government, you expect a certain level of competency from your state, local and federal government on (virus response), and I think you’re seeing this directly in some of these poll numbers,” said Decision Desk HQ adviser Scott Tranter.

This comes as many of the final federal COVID-19 restrictions were melting away. On Monday, a Florida judge said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention overstepped its authority by enacting a national mask mandate on planes, trains and in transit hubs, which triggered an end to mandates across the country.

Explaining the ruling during Wednesday’s “On Balance with Leland Vittert” was May Davis, a former legal adviser to President Donald Trump.

“There were three reasons the judge held that this was illegal. One of them was that they quickly put it on with no notice after waiting a year after the pandemic,” Davis said. “So it’s hard for them to justify that they needed to do it immediately when, for a year, it hadn’t been in place,” she continued.

On Tuesday, though, the Department of Justice said it would appeal that ruling if the CDC makes a request, which is something Day says can kick into effect immediately.

“An emergency stay can be put on as soon as tomorrow. They’d have to find that the judge was wrong on all three measures that she ruled on, but that can be immediately. A regular appeal — even an expedited appeal — would take at least month,” she said.

At the same time, cases are beginning to rise nationally once again, caused by a mutant called BA.2 that’s thought to be about 30% more contagious. The new variant prompted a renewed lockdown in Shanghai, China that’s resulted in global supply chain issues and severe food shortages. Closer to home, Philadelphia became the first major U.S. city to reinstate its indoor mask mandate Monday after reporting a sharp increase in coronavirus infections.

The latest coronavirus headlines.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that 90% of all COVID-19 cases in the US were made up of the highly contagious omicron sub-variant and Reuters reports the seven-day moving average of cases in the U.S. stood at 34,972 as of April 16, up 23.4% from the previous week.

With that backdrop, large majorities of those polled by NewsNation indicated support for renewed pandemic restrictions in the event of a new COVID-19 surge:

  • About 64% at least somewhat favored new mask mandates
  • 59% said they’d at least somewhat support vaccine mandates
  • About 52% said they could get behind new stay-home orders that included ordering nonessential businesses to be shut down

As of Tuesday, the CDC reports 66% of the population has been “fully” inoculated with either one shot of the Janssen vaccine or two shots of the Moderna or Pfizer BioNTech vaccine. Only 45% of the country has received first booster doses, with nearly 50% of the eligible population opting out.

There have been more than 80.7 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States and more than 989,000 confirmed deaths, according to data complied by Johns Hopkins University.

Read the full poll here.

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