Concerns about COVID exposure at work steady since last fall: Gallup

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A third of employed adults are concerned about exposure to COVID-19 at work, a figure that is relatively unchanged since the fall last year, according to a new Gallup poll.

The new survey found only a 3-percentage-point drop from November, 2021, when 36 percent of workers expressed at least moderate concern for exposure to COVID-19 at work.

The percentage has fallen, however, from the first six months of the pandemic in 2020. Roughly half of respondents were uneasy about exposure at work at the time, while the percentage of those saying they are “not concerned at all” has grown from 23 percent in 2020 to a record high of 39 percent in the latest polling.

Exposure concerns did not significantly vary by age, but the new survey did find a substantial gender gap.

Forty-one percent of working women worry significantly about COVID-19 exposure at work, compared to 26 percent of working men.

Respondents’ concerns also split along party lines, a disparity seen throughout the pandemic that has now widened more than at any other point. 

Just more than half of Democrats surveyed in the new poll — 51 percent — expressed at least moderate concern about work-related COVID-19 exposure, while just 26 percent of independents and 14 percent of Republicans agreed

Two-thirds of workers indicated they expect infections to increase this fall and winter. About a quarter — 26 percent — said they expected infections to increase a great deal, compared to 43 percent who said infections would increase a moderate amount and about a quarter who thought it would remain the same.

Just 6 percent said they expect infections to decrease to any extent this fall and winter, the poll found.

A slight majority expressed worry about new strains of COVID-19, and fewer than half were confident that vaccines will protect people from newer variants.

The poll was conducted before Americans started receiving booster shots designed to target omicron variants. 

The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in recent weeks have approved the new shots, marking the first time the vaccines have been updated since the start of the pandemic.

Top White House health officials, including Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, have indicated people will likely need annual COVID-19 booster shots.

The Gallup poll was conducted between July 26 and Aug. 2 with a random sample of 3,682 adults, including 1,274 workers. Gallup weighted the sample to match national demographics, and the margin of error is 3 percentage points.

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