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Most Americans Believe The Health Benefits Of COVID-19 Restrictions Are Worth The Costs, Polling Shows

(CNN) -- Most Americans believe that the public health benefits of restrictions due to Covid-19 are worth the economic and lifestyle costs, according to a report released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center.

Pew researchers surveyed 10,348 adults in the US between August 23 and 29.

Most adults say that restrictions on public activity during the pandemic hurt economic activity and kept people from living life the way they want to, but the majority also believe those restrictions have helped slow the spread of the virus and its consequences.

Ultimately, 62% say the public health benefits of restrictions are worth the cost, while 37% say they are not.

Though 72% of adults say they now personally know someone who has been hospitalized or died from Covid-19, 54% believe the worst of the outbreak is still to come. Black and Hispanic people are most likely to know someone who has been hospitalized or died.

The margin of error for the full sample is plus or minus 1.6 percentage points.

Fewer people are now wearing masks, the report suggests, with 53% saying they mask up in stores and businesses, down from 88% in February, when mask requirements were more widespread.

In July, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its mask guidance to recommend that fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors when in areas with "substantial" and "high" transmission of Covid-19, which at the time included nearly two-thirds of all US counties. The latest CDC data now finds 95% of all US counties are considered to be in areas with "substantial" or "high" transmission levels.

The CDC had previously revised its guidance in May for vaccinated people to unmask before the explosion of the Delta variant.

But the Pew report also found about 80% of adults say they believe mask requirements on airplanes and public transportation are necessary to address the spread of the virus, and that international travel should be restricted.

Last week, the top fine for violating transportation face mask requirement doubled. The civil penalties will now range from $500 to $3,000, the Department of Homeland Security said. The previous range was $250 to $1,500.

The face mask requirement is now in place through mid-January and applies to airplanes, trains and buses, as well as hubs like airports and train terminals.

Other support for Covid-19 restrictions

Half say that restaurants should be limited to takeout only, and 48% say that schools should be closed for in-person learning.

Public health recommendations have changed throughout the pandemic, along with the science, and 61% say the changes make sense. A little over half say the changes reassure them that officials are listening to new information.

But not everyone is reassured. About 55% say the changes make them question whether officials are withholding information, 53% say they prompted confusion and 51% say they lessened confidence in officials' recommendations.

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