CDC finds majority of Americans would not feel safe if coronavirus restrictions lifted nationwide

Sea World Orlando guests don masks to ride the Mako roller coaster, in Orlando, Fla., Thursday, June 11, 2020.

Joe Burbank | Orlando Sentinel | Tribune News Service via Getty Images

A majority of Americans say they would not feel safe if social distancing measures meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus were lifted nationwide, according to a new report published Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

U.S. health officials conducted more than 4,000 surveys among adults in New York City, Los Angeles and broadly across the United States between May 5 and May 12. 

Of the 2,402 people who completed the surveys, 74.3% reported they would feel unsafe if U.S. restrictions were lifted, compared with 81.5% in New York City and 73.4% in Los Angeles, according to the CDC. New York City and Los Angeles have seen some of the largest outbreaks in the U.S.

In addition, among those who reported that they would not feel safe, some indicated that they would nonetheless want community mitigation strategies lifted and would accept risks, the CDC wrote.

The health agency said responses differed “significantly” when looking at age, employment status, and essential worker status.

About 43% of people between the ages of 18 and 24 said they would feel safe if restrictions were lifted, twice as high among people aged 65 and older, the report said. Essential workers accounted for 47.2% of employed respondents in the U.S. cohort and were more likely than were nonessential workers to report that they would feel safe if measures were lifted, the CDC said.

The CDC report comes as some states see a rise in cases after they lifted stay-at-home orders and opened businesses. 

Arizona reported an additional 1,412 new cases on Thursday, bringing the state’s total to 31,264. The number of cases have climbed by nearly 300% since May 1 and have roughly doubled since Memorial Day.

Texas this week reported three-straight days of record-breaking coronavirus hospitalizations in the state. Coronavirus hospitalizations in the state have increased by about 32% since the Memorial Day holiday, according to state data. 

“We’re all getting tired of staying at home,” CDC’s Deputy Director for Infectious Diseases Jay Butler told reporters during a press briefing Friday. He added the goal is to keep the curve as flat as possible, encouraging people to continue to adhere to proper hygiene and social distancing.

Last week, CDC Director Robert Redfield told lawmakers he was worried Americans aren’t following the agency’s advice as states begin to reopen after shuttering businesses and limiting activities.

The CDC said most respondents in the three cohorts supported stay-at-home orders and nonessential business closures. Additionally, 67.3% of respondents in the United States, 76.6% in New York City, and 69.1% in Los Angeles agreed that nonessential workers should stay home.

The CDC has remained largely quiet on the pandemic. Agency officials hadn’t held an open press briefing in three months. Last month, the agency quietly released detailed guidance for reopening schools, mass transit and nonessential businesses that had been shut down in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S.

On Friday, the CDC released guidance on how Americans can resume some activities safely.

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