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Gallup: Life not yet 'normal' amid COVID-19, but politics driving behaviors

Masked pedestrians walk past empty tables in University City, Mo., on Tuesday. Due to a surge in COVID-19 cases, St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page has ordered all restaurants in St. Louis County to close indoor seating. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
Masked pedestrians walk past empty tables in University City, Mo., on Tuesday. Due to a surge in COVID-19 cases, St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page has ordered all restaurants in St. Louis County to close indoor seating. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 18 (UPI) -- The vast majority of Americans say their lives have not yet fully returned to normal, the way they were before COVID-19, but there's a wide political divide about the ways they're living as the crisis worsens in the United States, a Gallup survey said Wednesday.

According to the poll, 62% of respondents said their lives are "not yet back to normal" and about a third said they're "somewhat" back to normal. Just 3% said their lives are "completely" back to normal.

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The survey was taken between Oct. 19 and Nov. 1, before a rapid surge in cases nationwide and two straight weeks of more than 100,000 new U.S. coronavirus cases per day.

Although almost all respondents acknowledged their lives haven't fully returned to normal -- and 70% said COVID-19 has disrupted their lives a "great deal" or "fair amount" -- the survey shows a great political divide when it comes to the ways they are behaving with the pandemic.

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When it comes to interacting with people outside their homes, 78% of Democrats said they "always," "mostly" or "partially" isolate. That figure among Republicans is just 49%. In fact, the greatest share of Republicans, 32%, said they "make no attempt" to isolate.

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When it comes to physically distancing, 88% of Democrats said they do it "always" or "very often." Among Republicans, the share is 52%.

"Just as Republicans are more likely than Democrats and independents to say their life is at least somewhat back to normal, so too are they more likely to say the coronavirus situation has not significantly disrupted their life," Gallup wrote. "Fifty-one percent of Republicans, 81% of Democrats and 74% of independents say the pandemic has affected their life at least a fair amount.

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"Partisanship remains the most significant driver of the public's perceptions of the disease and their behaviors in response to it."

The partisan divide can at least partly be attributed to leadership under President Donald Trump, who's never taken COVID-19 countermeasures like masks and distancing seriously, and other GOP leaders like South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and White House adviser Scott Atlas who have echoed his calls to reject health recommendations.

A Gallup survey earlier this week, however, found that more Americans say they are now willing to take a coronavirus vaccine than were two months ago.

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Gallup polled nearly 3,000 U.S. adults for Wednesday's survey, which has a margin of error of 3 points.

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