With the president addressing the state of the nation, the confusion, the disorientation of dizzyingly varied COVID restrictions is taking its toll.
"I understand the numbers are going down. We're still trusting science but it's definitely nerve wracking," said Danna Rosenthal, who is wary of easing restrictions.
As a vast majority of states ease — or entirely lift — COVID restrictions, some counties, cities, and individual businesses are keeping their own rules in place, making for a patchwork of policy.
"We're asking all of our guests to continue wearing a mask to help protect those who yet can't be vaccinated," said Cody Hefner with the Cincinnati Museum Center.
New numbers from the Kaiser Family Foundation show 62% of U.S. adults agree that the worst of the pandemic is behind us. But only 35% think it's time to resume normal pre-pandemic activity. And interestingly, only 26% of the vaccinated agree.
Sixty percent of unvaccinated adults think the return to normal should be now. Forty-three percent say students and staff in schools should be required to wear masks, as those restrictions ease coast to coast, too. And parents and experts worry — about the emotional toll of the pandemic on our kids.
"The fatigue that adults are experiencing are also being felt by our children, yet they lack the life experience and the vocabulary to articulate exactly what they're feeling," mental health advocate Natasha Pierre said.
It all makes for a complex tableau of ideas before a president who is challenged to lay out a game plan to move forward.
"The president of the United States cannot make all Americans happy," professional studies professor Barbara Perry said. "We have to move beyond that. But he does have to do what Bill Clinton used to say: 'Feel their pain.'"
As national case counts and hospitalizations keep a downward trend, experts know the next spike is only a matter of time. It's just about how we respond to it this time around.
"We just have such a better grasp on this disease," Kaiser Permanente Infectious Diseases Chief Dr. Katie Sharff said.