Texans remain concerned about pandemic, but they’re returning to normal, UT/TT Poll finds

People being monitored for symptoms after receiving their COVID-19 vaccine at the Delco Activity Center on March 13, 2021, in Austin.                    Credit: Sergio Flores for The Texas Tribune
People being monitored for symptoms after receiving their COVID-19 vaccine at the Delco Activity Center on March 13, 2021, in Austin. Credit: Sergio Flores for The Texas Tribune

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Texas voters are feeling safer about being out in public, and better about getting COVID-19 vaccines, but a majority of the state’s voters still consider the coronavirus a “significant crisis,” according to a new University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

In the first UT/TT Poll of the pandemic, conducted a year ago, 63% of Texans said they were “only leaving my residence when I absolutely have to.” That has fallen to 21%; in the current poll, 33% said they were “living normally, coming and going as usual,” and another 44% said they are still leaving home, “but being careful when I do.” The majority of Democrats, 55%, were in that last group, while 55% of Republicans said they are living normally.

“Democrats are still living as if it's April of last year, but Republicans are pretty much back to normal,” said Joshua Blank, research director for the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin.

Those Texas voters haven’t thrown caution to the wind, however: 74% said they’re staying away from large groups, 64% are “avoiding other people as much as possible,” and 80% are wearing masks when in close contact with people outside their households.

Presented with a list of specific activities, more than half of Texas voters said they feel safe buying groceries, getting haircuts, working, staying in hotels, eating in restaurants, sending the kids to school, going to the mall, attending church, flying on planes, and attending outdoor concerts and sporting events.

Other activities still don’t have majority support when it comes to perceptions of safety, including going to the movies, the gym, indoor sporting events or concerts and going to bars and clubs.

“There are limits to what people are willing to do, and a reluctance to say this thing is over. People are more willing to do everything, but the overall order of these activities remains the same,” said Daron Shaw, co-director of the poll and a government professor at UT-Austin.