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Just 36 percent of Americans say pandemic response is ‘going well’

President Joe Biden discussed the Omicron variant and the government response in Washington on Jan. 4, 2022. Just over a third of Americans said they thought the US pandemic response is going well, a new poll said.Doug Mills/NYT

As the anniversary of President Joe Biden’s inauguration approaches this week, American opinion of his efforts to contain the pandemic is lower than ever, according to a CBS News/YouGov poll.

The poll, released Sunday, found just 36 percent of respondents believed US efforts to deal with the coronavirus were “going well.” Just 49 percent of Americans approved of the president’s management of the pandemic, compared with 66 percent of Americans who gave the same response in July, in a previous version of the poll.

Seventy-eight percent of those who approved of the president’s handling of the pandemic identified as liberal, and 83 percent who disapproved identified as conservative.

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The president’s first year in office included widespread distribution of coronavirus vaccines, the rise of the aggressive Delta variant and, most recently, the record-breaking surge of Omicron overwhelming hospitals across the country. The federal government faced a significant setback in its efforts to curb the spread of the virus when the Supreme Court rejected a vaccine-or-testing mandate for private employers that would have affected more than 80 million workers. But the court allowed a more limited mandate that requires health care workers at facilities that receive federal money to be vaccinated.

The poll, of 2,094 adult respondents surveyed Jan. 12-14, found that 35 percent of Americans believed the administration’s policies were improving the pandemic, compared with 40 percent who believed the policies made the situation worse. Among the respondents who believed that Biden’s policies improved the pandemic, 61 percent identified as liberal; among the respondents who said that Biden’s policies made the pandemic worse, 68 percent identified as conservative.

While new cases seem to be peaking in New York and some other Northeastern states, they remain extremely high there and at record levels elsewhere. Nationally, the United States is averaging nearly 802,000 daily cases, a near doubling over the past two weeks. More than 156,000 people with the virus are hospitalized, a record and an increase of 61 percent over two weeks. Average deaths exceed 1,900 a day, up 57 percent.

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The respondents who believed that Biden was doing a good job handling the pandemic praised his encouragement of vaccination, promotion of vaccine mandates and distribution of economic aid to those affected by the virus.