There is anticipation in the air that things are returning to normal. Many states have already lifted many restrictions; still others are beginning to do so. This, though, does not mean things actually will return to status quo ante. I might be able to get a legal haircut next week in Potomac, Maryland. But this is not normality, in my mind.
Simply put, the way we see the world has been significantly altered as a result of COVID-19. Americans see risks everywhere. We will be using masks, social distancing in public, standing in line for services never before deserving of long lines, shying away from large crowds, among other activities. The health crisis has left an indelible imprint on our cognitive landscape.
Below I detail the most important data of the week.
- Spring is here: breaking the rules! Last week, I noted that people are beginning to poke their heads out; it is spring after all. Most states have begun to lift their restrictions. I wanted to share non-polling aggregate cellphone (mobility) data from the Ipsos Biosurveillance Atlas. Look at how we have begun to venture out over the last month. Some differences: Americans in the South and less urban areas are bolder about ignoring social distancing measures than their coastal urban counterparts.
- To school or not to school? For parents like me, the yuuuuge question is whether schools—of the non-virtual variety—will even open this fall. A strong majority of parents and teachers think school will happen. But there is much trepidation, especially if a vaccine does not exist by then. So, will schools open or not? We will see.
- Socially distancing children, really? Keeping children socially distanced is, well, an impossible task—this goes from pre-K through 12th grade. I can attest unequivocally from personal experience. Most parents and teachers agree with me. In my opinion, school will be a free-for-all without a vaccine. Social control and kindergartners; no parties and college students. Think about it.
- Only three states matter: mixed messages. Only three states will really matter in 2020: Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Our leading indicators, however, are contradictory at best. Biden leads in the horse race matchup in each of these key swing states. Trump has strong approval numbers. What’s the deal? Still lots of uncertainty as COVID-19 and the 2020 general election play a game of chicken.
- China as Trump’s bogeyman. Trump is master of “pump priming” his base by designating clear external enemies. China is shaping up to be just that foil. A significant plurality of Americans see COVID-19 as something concocted in a petri dish by humans. And many see China as the culprit: Republicans more so; Democrats less. Trump’s strategy is clear.
For a nice summary of the above, take a look at my most recent POTUS radio interview. As always, be safe and be sane.
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