New CDC COVID-19 Guidelines

May 21, 2021

On May 13, the CDC suddenly released major changes to their COVID-19 guidelines. While 71% of Americans are aware that they announced new recommendations, there is still a lot of confusion around what they actually mean, and what people should do.

Although most of the population claims to have heard of the recommendations, only half of people are completely clear on what the changes actually are. Even among those who claim to be completely clear on the updates, there is a lack of actual understanding about what they truly are and the extent of the new guidelines.  Over 30% cannot correctly identify the new mask mandate, almost 90% still do not know what to do if exposed to someone with COVID-19, and over 80% are unclear with what to do if traveling.

Despite this confusion, the new guidelines are likely to have an immediate impact on the number of people wearing masks when they leave the house. Before the announcement, over half of Americans claimed to always wear a mask when leaving the house, but in the days immediately following the changes, only 3 out of 10 claim they will still always wear one. 

The mandate also successfully increased trust in the vaccines for over 6 in 10 Americans, and even more for those already vaccinated (77%). Individuals already vaccinated are excited about the recommendations as they signify a return to normalcy. But even many of them feel the announcement is premature (68%), and some claim they will still always wear a mask anytime they leave their house (28%).

For those who are on the fence over whether they should get vaccinated, the mandate encourages them to take the leap. Almost half of those undecided on whether they should get the vaccine or not feel the changes make getting it more worthwhile. And 35% claim they will now get the vaccine because of the new recommendations.

Even though there seems to be progress around vaccine perception because of the announcement, there are still groups within the U.S. who are not reacting as positively. Those who have been more impacted by COVID-19, BIPOC and lower income, are unprepared to let go of mask-wearing. BIPOC Americans are two times more likely to say they will still always wear a mask versus white Americans, and those with lower income are 1.4 times more likely than higher income individuals. And for people with no plans to get the vaccine, there seems to be little evidence of movement. Around 7 in 10 of vaccine refusers do not see a point in the new recommendations and believe the move was entirely political.

It will be interesting to see how attitudes and perceptions around masks and vaccines further evolve in the following weeks and months. Look out for our New Normal News updates each month for the latest pulse on COVID-19.

To better understand what is driving people’s hesitancy around COVID-19 vaccines check out this report.   

Source: Horizon Media, Finger On The Pulse. Survey fielded 5/17/21-5/20/21, n=983

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