Maybe Americans just want things to feel more normal. 

At any rate, recent CivicScience data show that, week over week, more Americans –the majority still being concerned about being in public– report they are comfortable with taking part in most normal activities now.

First, the data from the last full week of reporting (August 16-21, 2020) show that people are still concerned about being in public spaces at a high rate (82% say they’re at least somewhat concerned). This remains nearly unchanged from recent weeks. The only difference being slightly less people say they are very concerned.

However, more people say they would be comfortable returning to normal activities now (like non-grocery retail shopping, travel, and restaurant dining). Comfort traveling has fluctuated over the last few weeks. Restaurant dining and non-grocery shopping have consistently increased, though.

Non-Grocery Retail Shopping


Vacation Travel

Restaurant Dining

While at first it may sound counterintuitive with the “being in public” data, concern remains, but people are ready to get back to some semblance of their old routines.

You could say this follows the logic that though people aren’t keen about being in public, they are starting to embrace it more and more as the option to go more places is there. Forty-four percent of American adults believe they’ll have to practice social distancing and self-isolation for 6 or more months, which decreased slightly since last week (from 47%). So while this is true, maybe the population overall is just accepting the brand new reality of the pandemic and dipping their toe back into the waters of everyday life, mask and all.

The only area this is not true is comfort going to a major public event. In a lot of cases or places across the country, this isn’t even an option. And maybe that’s just it. When things are an option, and the more you see friends and neighbors going back to activities, the more comfortable you yourself become. 

Just one-fifth of U.S. adults report they’d be comfortable going to an event today. But we did observe comfort increasing to the near future (2-4 months), with a small decline in those reporting ‘6+ months.’

And, in an increasing continuation from last week, the majority of Americans want to return to the workplace now. Two-thirds of previously working adults now say they’re comfortable going back to work, which is the highest percentage we’ve seen to date. 

This may be due to the fact that concern about job security remains high. Nearly half of adults are concerned about their current employment situation.

All in all, the data is fascinating. While coronavirus cases are high across the country, it appears that people are shifting their mindsets a bit and choosing to take on a new normal.