The pandemic habits Americans say they'll keep after COVID-19

By KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- With more and more vaccines getting distributed across the country, you’d think most people are counting down the minutes until they can take off their masks and throw away the hand sanitizer.

But a new national survey out of the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center shows that's not the case.

About 3/4 of all survey respondents said they’ll continue to wear masks in public, 80% say they’ll still avoid crowds, and 9 out 10 plan to continue frequent hand washing and sanitizing.

"I really didn't expect to see such a robust response of people, the vast majority of people, 70% to 80%, depending on which domain we looked at, really stating that they were interested in continuing these things," said Dr. Iahn Gonsenhauser, chief quality and patient safety officer at Wexner.

He says they did the survey to see how people were truly feeling nearly a year after pandemic precautions were implemented.

Gonsenhauser points to people’s optimism and eagerness to get to the end of the pandemic. He says people are very willing to demonstrate the commitment to safety protocols, and they’re also realizing the benefits of masking.

The CDC reported that flu numbers were lower in 2020, and more adults got the flu shot in pharmacies compared to 2019’s flu season.

Gonsenhauser says the biggest surprise of the survey to him was the willingness of people to show that they are going to stay home from work when they’re feeling ill.

"Hopefully that’s going to be supported not just by the individuals who may come down with a cold or an illness in the future, but by their employers also to allow them the flexibility to keep that at home, not impact their coworkers, not impact productivity and actually get back to work sooner than if they stayed at work with an illness."