As is commonplace with the weekly roller coaster that is the COVID-19 pandemic, concern about being in public spaces right now increased slightly this week after decreasing the week prior. The percentage of consumers who expect social distancing will need to be in place for six or more months also increased.

Another indicator that spiked last week (comfort dining out at restaurants) declined slightly this week. 

While we can’t say for sure why people show more concern in the most recent numbers, variants could play a role. A new CivicScience survey found that 52% of U.S. adults are ‘very concerned’ about the emerging coronavirus variants moving throughout the country.

While this week only about 30% of the population say they won’t feel comfortable dining out for six or more months, more than half of those who say they’re very concerned about variants say the same. 

Even more of this group (66%) would wait half a year or more to take a vacation, while just 45% of the general population says the same.

However, in general, comfort traveling right now continued to increase this week, but there was also a slight increase observed in the group of people who would wait half a year or more.

People who are most concerned about the spreading variants are also the most likely to expect to have to practice social distancing for another six or more months. This is nearly 20 percentage points higher than the general population’s view on the matter. 

Millennials between the ages of 25 and 34 are the least concerned about these variants. What’s interesting is that while older people show the most concern, Gen Z adults also show a significant amount as well. In general, CivicScience data has shown that women are overall more cautious when it comes to the coronavirus, and that is the story when it comes to variants as well.

The lower an individual’s household income, the higher their concern over variants is. The job impact of this pandemic aside, paying for costs be it medical or not, is scary to think about in the event that you get sick and cannot work. However, it’s worth nothing that those in the highest income bracket in the grouping below ($125k+) are just five percentage points behind the general population in grave concern.

Speaking of jobs, those not working and without pay do show the most concern about these highly contagious new variants, but remote workers are right behind them. 

Lastly, CivicScience found that even those who are already vaccinated are just as likely as the general population to show a lot of concern about the variants. While this is likely because they are more worried about the virus at large, as well as other demographic factors that act as  proxies, it’s clear that concern exists about the variants, at least in part, due to the unknowns concerning how the vaccines will protect against variants beyond the original U.S. strain.