The return to normal

Lots of us are going back to pre-pandemic life. Some of us have more justification for it than others.

As an increasing number of Texans get vaccinated against COVID-19, most voters here are returning to their pre-pandemic lives — or something close to it — after a year of living carefully, according to the University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

In the June poll, 47% of voters said they were coming and going as they were before the pandemic restrictions hit, while 39% said they were leaving the house regularly while still exercising caution. Another 14% said they were still staying home all the time or only going out when absolutely necessary, according to the poll.

Conservatives are more likely to be living normally now, the poll found: 68% of Republicans are returning to pre-pandemic lifestyles compared with only one in five Democrats — even though Democrats are more likely to have been vaccinated.

By contrast, 59% of white voters have returned to their normal pre-pandemic lives with no additional precautions or restrictions that aren’t mandated, the poll shows. Fewer than one in five white Texans have a high level of concern about themselves or someone they know being infected.

“There are pretty large racial and ethnic disparities in levels of concern. This gap has persisted throughout the pandemic,” said Joshua Blank, research director for the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin. “The fact that these groups express more concern is a reflection of the reality that they’ve faced more harm or impact.”

Less than half of Texas voters believe that coronavirus is still a significant crisis, compared with two-thirds in April 2020.

Democrats and Republicans differ sharply on this, and have disagreed since the beginning of the pandemic, the poll found. More than three-quarters of Democrats believe the pandemic is still a significant crisis, while less than one-quarter of Republicans feel the same. More than a third of Republicans say it’s not an issue at all.

At the start of the pandemic, 91% of Democrats viewed coronavirus as a significant concern, while less than half of Republicans felt that way, the April 2020 UT/TT poll found. By June 2020, that level of concern among Republicans dropped to 29% and stayed close to that rate for the next year.

The consistent differences in the perspective on the pandemic between the two parties has been reflected in the decisions being made by Texas’ Republican leaders — easing business restrictions just a month after shutdowns started, or fighting Democratic efforts to push through voting procedures that they believed reduced risk at the voting booth, pollsters said.

I would have had to answer “it depends” for a lot of these questions. I’m still working from home – we have a voluntary return to premises policy right now – but that’s because I vastly prefer working from home and avoiding the awful commute to my office. I still wear a mask in places that ask for masks to be worn, even if they specify that only unvaccinated people should wear them, though some of the time I skip it. I still have a preference for eating outdoors at restaurants, but I have eaten inside some of the time. I do think the pandemic is still a significant crisis, but that’s mostly because of the significant number of unvaccinated people that we have in this state. In my own highly-vaccinated neighborhood, I feel quite comfortable acting normally and don’t spend any time worrying about it. It’s all a matter of context.

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2 Responses to The return to normal

  1. Jason Hochman says:

    What does this mean: “Some of us have more justification for it than others.” Now we need a justification to live our lives?

    Those who owe us a justification are the tyrants who caused the unwarranted panic and mishandled the illness. People like Gov. Cuomo who killed many elderly people through his tyranny.

    I just got a book from the UK, A State of Fear, that details how the UK government used fear to manipulate the public. It applies even more so in the US, where the Trump terror and the systemic racism panics were also added to the mixture.

    Already, the news experts are talking about how Trump’s suit against Facebook and Twitter has no merit. Of course none of them seemed to have read the suit. We should support Trump in his efforts to bring down these billionaires, the idle rich, who used the pandemic to transfer massive infusions of wealth from working people into their pockets. They censored and blocked information such as the lab leak theory, which now seems to be likely. They were behind the Chinese disinformation campaign that hacked our election.

    Bill King’s blog has a better analysis of the racial and ethnic disparities form the pandemic.

    I find it interesting the Russia sponsored Trump and China sponsored Biden. In the olden times, the two of them were allies. My grandfather’s friends remembered in Korea, that Chinese pilots flew Soviet made MiGs out of airfields in China on behalf of North Korea. The Chinese pilots were trained by Soviet pilots, and although the MiG was a better machine than the F86 Saber, the US pilots knocked a lot of MiGs out of the air because the US pilots were better trained and experienced in WW2 dog fights.

    Presidential candidates should be forced to wear NASCAR style jumpsuits with their sponsors emblazoned on them. Trump would have his Russia and hydroxychloroquine patches, and Biden would have his CCP and Remdesivir and WHO and Twitter and CNN badges. It would be a lot more fun.

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